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Individuals Step Up to Tackle Society’s Biggest Problems

3 March 2011 at 2:39 pm
Staff Reporter
Wealthy entrepreneurs and business leaders who are less risk-averse and more nimble than governments will help solve the world’s biggest issues in coming decades, according to two philanthropy experts.

Staff Reporter | 3 March 2011 at 2:39 pm


Individuals Step Up to Tackle Society’s Biggest Problems
3 March 2011 at 2:39 pm

Wealthy entrepreneurs and business leaders who are less risk-averse and more nimble than governments will help solve the world’s biggest issues in coming decades, according to two philanthropy experts.

Matthew Bishop and Michael Green, the US authors of Philanthrocapitalism, are about to tour Australia, conducting forums for philanthropists and Not for Profit organisations (NFPs) to discuss the big challenges faced by society and the role philanthropy can play in inspiring solutions.

According to the authors, Philanthrocapitalism is a new way of doing good, mirroring the way business operates in the for-profit, capitalist world.

Matthew Bishop says philanthrocapitalists can do the risky, innovative things that government cannot, to find new solutions to longstanding and unresolved problems.

He says entrepreneurs don’t just want to write cheques; they want to be hands on, bringing innovative ideas to scale by investing their time and energy and the same applies for social entrepreneurs – philanthrocapitalism describes the growing belief amongst the winners of capitalism that giving back is an integral part of being wealthy.

Bishop and Green will draw on insights gained from their interviews with some of the most powerful and influential people on the planet, including Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Angelina Jolie and Bono, as they speak to Australian philanthropists and NFPs.

Michael Green says that although the book focuses on wealthy donors, it is not just or even mostly about the rich. Instead, it uses the rich as a lens to look at how society is changing the way it solves its biggest problems, by bringing together business, NFPs, governments, social entrepreneurs and philanthropists in innovative partnerships.

According to Perpetual and The University of Queensland (UQ), hosts of the Philanthrocapitalism events around the country, the way people give in Australia is changing.

The Charities Aid Foundation reports that Australians give much less than Americans; as a percentage of GDP, giving 0.69%, which is less than half of America’s proportional contribution.

Andrew Thomas, Perpetual’s General Manager of Philanthropy says that obviously, not everyone can make individual multi-million dollar contributions, but it is clear Australia needs a more concerted giving effort, and local philanthropists can learn a lot from the big players.

Thomas suggests that philanthropy in Australia will move away from a ‘drop and run’ donation in the future.

He says philanthropists are beginning to put more thought into how to give in a meaningful, sustainable way and they are also becoming more selective in who they give their money to, and why.

Thomas says NFP organisations are aware of the need to become more transparent about where they direct their funds and how productively these funds are being deployed.

He says a big problem for NFPs is that they try to do too many things at once.

He says most NFPs in Australia are relatively small and struggle to make a sustained and telling impact, but the philanthrocapitalism mindset being presented this week will help them expand their thinking and seek smarter ways of making a clear contribution to wider efforts to drive societal change for the good.

UQ Vice-Chancellor, Professor Paul Greenfield, says the University was co-hosting the authors’ tour because its own experiences had proved the transformative power of strategic giving.

Prof Greenfield says strategic philanthropy has enabled UQ to dramatically increase its capacity to contribute to global problem-solving and offer life-changing education to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The authors of Philanthrocapitalism will visit Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth between 7-14 March, conducting two forums in each city for philanthropists and NFP organisations.  Attendance at the forums is by invitation.

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