26 January 2021

In this episode we take a look at the philanthropic giving of MacKenzie Scott (former wife of Jeff Bezos), who has garnered a great deal of attention and praise for the scale, pace and approach of her philanthropy. We ask: what are the key aspects of received wisdom about giving that she is rejecting? And will this lead to wider changes in how big money philanthropy works in future? Including:

Rejecting the myth of the 'self-made billionaire', in favour of recognition that luck, privilege & reliance on wider society are always factors in wealth creation.

Rejecting the Carnegian idea that "it's harder to give money away intelligently than earn it", and that if you're willing to cede power & give unrestricted grants it's actually eminently possible.

  • Rejecting the idea that philanthropy needs to be done slowly, or that it should aim towards perpetuity.
  • Rejecting the idea that grants need to be restricted or short-term.
  • Rejecting the idea that the donor has all the answers or should set the agenda.
  • Rejecting the idea that being 'strategic' means being top-down or technocratic.
  • Rejecting the idea that we need to maintain distance between donor and grantee, or avoid human connection in philanthropy.
  • Rejecting the idea that philanthropy by itself can ever be a solution to inequality.
  • Rejecting the idea that philanthropy needs to be secretive or opaque.

About the Giving Thought podcast

The Giving Thought podcast is an exploration of trends in global philanthropy and civil society. Launched in 2017 it is recognised as an insightful and influential source of philanthropic debate.  Rhodri Davies director of our Giving Thought Think Tank hosts the podcast, discussing contemporary issues and interviewing sector experts. Episodes are also available free on iTunes and Libsyn.

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