Philanthropy and the movies Oscars special!

12 February 2019

Episode 43 is an Oscars special! We explore philanthropy at the movies: what films there are about philanthropy (if any), what insight they can offer, and some ideas for future films that could be made. Topics covered include:

  • Why aren’t there any genuinely great portrayals of philanthropy or the big questions it raises on film?
  • Fictional philanthropists in movies
  • The philanthropist as plot device or cinematic shorthand

Do comic book adaptations offer the most insightful portrayal of philanthropy issues in the movies?

  • Is Tony Stark (Iron Man) an example of the challenge of doing good with tainted money?
  • What does X Men’s Charles Xavier tell us about enlightened self-interest?
  • Is The Marvel Avengers: Civil War storyline really about the tension between philanthropic liberty and democratic accountability?
  • Does Black Panther highlight the challenges of issue-based vs place-based identity in philanthropy?
  • Is Thanos an effective altruist?

Pitching some of the great philanthropic stories we could tell on film:

  • Carnegie, Rockefeller and the Walsh Commission
  • Julius Rosenwald and the Civil Rights Movement
  • Angela Burdett-Coutts and Charles Dickens: the philanthropic odd couple
  • William Rathbone: head vs heart
  • James Oglethorpe and the founding of the State of Georgia
  • John Howard: the grumpy Indiana Jones of philanthropy

related content

Lights, Camera, Altruism: Philanthropy in movies from our Giving Thougth Blog.

Meet The Philanthropists: the Indiana Jones of philanthropy, John  Howard excerpt from Rhodri Davies' book Public Good by Private Means.

About the Giving Thought podcast

The Giving Thought podcast is an exploration of trends in global philanthropy and civil society.  Since launching in May 2017, the podcast has become recognised as an insightful and influential source of philanthropic debate. 

In each episode Rhodri Davies, Director of our Giving Thought Think Tank, and guests, take a contemporary issue in philanthropy and civil society and break it down into three manageable chunks, giving an overview of the extensive work they have done on the subject.  Episodes are also available free on iTunes and Libsyn.

Visit the Giving Thought podcast library

Giving Thought blog

Our blog includes details about key issues affecting civil society, philanthropy, social investment and using new technologies for social good.

Philanthropy in the age of Brexit and Trump

Will a political shift lead to changes in attitudes towards philanthropy and civil society?

Giving Thought Podcast

Hear the latest insight and debate from our think-tank, with guests from the world of philanthropy.

Rhodri Davies

Rhodri Davies

Head of Policy

Rhodri leads Giving Thought, our in-house think tank focusing on current and future issues affecting philanthropy and civil society. Rhodri has spent nearly a decade specialising in public policy around philanthropy and the work of charities, and has researched, written and presented on a wide range of topics. He has a first-class degree in Mathematics and Philosophy from the University of Oxford.   Read more about Rhodri




The think tank for doing good

Giving Thought

Understanding and reimagining civil society.

Contact Giving Thought