The New Philanthropists: The World is Changing, So Must Philanthropy

DEILeadership StrategiesSustainable LeadershipIndustry TrendsDiversityEnvironmental, Social, and GovernanceTransformation InnovationFamily Business GovernanceLeadershipSocial ImpactEducationExecutive Search
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+ 3 authors
July 29, 2022
2 min read
DEILeadership StrategiesSustainable LeadershipIndustry TrendsDiversityEnvironmental, Social, and GovernanceTransformation InnovationFamily Business GovernanceLeadershipSocial ImpactEducationExecutive Search
Executive Summary
A new breed of philanthropist has a role to play in addressing society’s challenges, but must structure their orgs to fit the new reality.
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It is clear—the world is changing. What is less clear is how the philanthropic world will change alongside it.

At Russell Reynolds Associates, we work with the world’s leading philanthropic and social impact organizations, advising them on their most pressing strategic leadership and organizational challenges. Our intersectional and global perspective provides a broad view into the ways in which philanthropic organizations are experimenting with new models of impact, and the ways in which a new cohort of philanthropists is innovating within the existing model. The scale at which these new funders are operating – sometimes several orders of magnitude larger than traditional, legacy foundations – has the potential to significantly amplify impact on many of society’s most pressing needs. However, given the sector’s systemic challenges, the rise of “new philanthropy” also has the potential to reinforce power imbalances, enable arrogance masked as innovation and, despite earnest intention, reaffirm systemic inequity.

How can these new organizations – whether foundations, donor collectives or venture funds – make the most of this unique moment to leverage their considerable resources for the greatest impact? What is clear is that there is no single way to “do” philanthropy, and every organization must choose the models, channels and instruments that are best suited to their theory of change. Often, this requires blending the best elements of traditional philanthropy with the best new ideas from emerging philanthropic models, while recognizing the unique role that “new philanthropists” can play as providers of catalytic financial and political capital.

 

 

 

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The New Philanthropists: The World is Changing, So Must Philanthropy

 

Additional Authors

Emily Meneer leads Russell Reynolds Associates’ Social Impact & Education and Sustainability Knowledge teams. She is based in Portland.

Vanessa Di Matteo is a member of Russell Reynolds Associates’ Social Impact & Education and Sustainability Knowledge teams. She is based in London.