Lunch & Learn 2015

December 9th 2015


Philanthropists’ accountability in question: to whom, for what, and how?

 

In theory philanthropists enjoy a remarkable freedom to use their funds as they see fit. While governments and public agencies are accountable to taxpaying voters, and other nonprofit organizations to their members and donors, private foundations with independent funding apparently have no obvious constituency to be accountable to, provided they do not infringe the law. This feature of philanthropy has been celebrated as a source of independence and innovation, which are key to addressing rare, unpopular problems or to invent new solutions to older issues. However, many observers fear that unchecked philanthropy exerts too much power and influence, especially in sensitive fields like healthcare or education. To counter these criticisms, private foundations and their representatives have published accountability reports and guidelines of “best practices”. Beyond self-regulation, other initiatives exist to ensure higher degrees of accountability, such as feedback from beneficiaries or peer evaluation. To whom should philanthropists be accountable? For what should they be accountable? What justifications are expected from philanthropists by their stakeholders? How do cultural and political contexts shape the nature and degree of accountability that is expected? 


With:

  • Noomi Weinryb, Chercheuse, Uppsala University (Suède), auteur de Free to conform: A comparative study of philanthropists’ accountability
  • Dominique Lemaistre, Directrice du Mécénat, Fondation de France.
Podcast:

September 17th 2015


Fondations et associations en France : état des lieux et enjeux comparés au XXIe siècle 


L’Observatoire de la Fondation de France a récemment publié l’étude « Fonds et fondations en France de 2001 à 2014 » qui propose un panorama complet de la philanthropie organisée dans notre pays. Les résultats soulignent le dynamisme du secteur : plus de 2200 fondations et 1800 fonds de dotation recensés, 84 000 salariés, 22 milliards d’euros d’actifs, 7,4 milliards d’euros de dépenses annuelles dont 1,5 redistribués en subventions, bourses, prix… Tous les indicateurs économiques sont au vert et les créations de nouvelles structures s’accélèrent. Ce renouveau doit être nuancé par les difficultés de certaines fondations établies, notamment à s’évaluer et à gagner en visibilité, mais aussi par la croissance des sollicitations de la part d’associations qui cherchent à renouveler ou diversifier leurs ressources. Dans un contexte de crise budgétaire où les financements publics se raréfient mais les besoins sociaux, éducatifs, culturels ou scientifiques continuent d’augmenter, associations et fondations font face à des défis importants et leurs destins semblent plus liés que jamais. En ce début de XXIe siècle, que savons-nous de ces deux outils phares de l’intérêt général, encore trop souvent confondus ? Et quels enjeux devront-ils affronter ensemble dans les années à venir ?


With:

  • Laurence de Nervaux, Responsable de l'Observatoire de la Fondation de France
  • Viviane Tchernonog, Chargée de recherché au CNRS, Centre d’économie de la Sorbonne. 
Due to technical problems, we have no podcast for this conference. Please find below the PowerPoint presentation that was presented.

May 26th 2015


Failures in philanthropy: an opportunity for collective progress


“Regrets, I’ve had a few – but then again, too few to mention” belts out Frank Sinatra in “My Way”. Facing unparalleled social, economic and environmental problems, can philanthropists afford to go it alone? Can we only learn from each other through our successes, or will we dare to share our failures too? The C&A Foundation is amongst a select group of givers and NGOs that has taken the risk of stepping out front. In a recent report, the Foundation has shared all its data – the good, the bad and the ugly – taken from its efforts to improve living conditions for garment workers factories in Asia. In “Frankly Speaking”, a report produced in association with the consultancy Giving Evidence, the data shows that whilst wages went up and worker turnover went down in most factories, in a large number of units, absenteeism did not go down. For the C&A Foundation, what have been the costs and benefits of sharing this information freely? Has it led to greater collaboration with other actors in the garment industry? Has it galvanized or diminished the motivation of C&A Foundation staff and partners? Has it led to refinement of the programme or to completely new directions? The seminar will also draw out the lessons for other givers and actors contemplating such a course of action. 


With:
  • Leslie Johnston, Executive Director of the C&A Foundation (Switzerland)
  • Caroline Fiennes, Director and Founder, Giving Evidence (United Kingdom) 
Podcast: 
 
April 1st 2015


Philanthropy in the Arab region: tradition and renewal

In our globalized, connected and ever-changing world, it is becoming clear that philanthropy is a universal, yet locally-rooted phenomenon. A major hurdle in understanding the diversity of giving traditions is the lack of documentary evidence in many parts of the world. This lack of data leads many to infer that philanthropy was born with Andrew Carnegie in the late 19th century and consider Western-style charitable giving as the yardstick for the developing world. Meanwhile, contemporary developments in philanthropy mostly come from the United States and are sometimes transferred to other countries without an adequate knowledge of local contexts. In the West, little is known about the long-standing practices of philanthropy in the Arab region, some of them dating from the 9th century. In the Islamic tradition, the equivalent of the endowed foundation, waqf, has been used to develop private hospitals, schools, and shelters for the poor in many countries. Similarly, current fundraising and giving trends in the Arab region have been largely neglected. As the “Arab Spring” brought civil society and citizen rights to the fore, it is interesting to speculate what role contemporary philanthropy has played in the recent uprisings of North African and Middle-Eastern countries, and will play in the future.


With:
  • Atallah Kuttab, Chairman and Founder of SAANED for Philanthropy Advisory in the Arab Region, Jordan.
  • Frédéric Fournier, Chief Executive Officer of Optimus 
Podcast: 

February 19th 2015


Peut-on critiquer la philanthropie ? 

La notion de « philanthropie » est polysémique et peut prêter à confusion. Dans son acception la plus générale, elle désigne l’amour de l’humanité et la volonté de faire progresser les conditions matérielles et morales des hommes. Est philanthrope celui qui soutient (financièrement) toute initiative en vue d’améliorer le sort de ses semblables. Moralement irréprochable, cette définition aussi répandue que consensuelle masque des enjeux de pouvoir et le contexte historique et social dans lequel la philanthropie s’est développée. En effet, la philanthropie désigne aussi un mouvement d’une certaine élite économique et culturelle qui veut résoudre elle-même les problèmes sociaux de son époque, palliant les diverses défaillances de l’Etat en la matière. Cette acception plus spécifique a fait l’objet de vives critiques, notamment dans des travaux sociologiques contemporains, qui accusent la philanthropie d’être ploutocratique par nature et de servir d’outil de légitimation du capitalisme financier. Au-delà des clivages idéologiques stériles, quelles critiques constructives de la philanthropie peut-on formuler aujourd’hui ? La philanthropie peut-elle progresser et limiter ses effets néfastes au contact de ces voix critiques ?


With:
  • Alexandre Lambelet, Professeur à la Haute école de travail social de Lausanne, auteur de l’ouvrage « La Philanthropie » (Presses de Sciences Po, 2014)
Podcast: