At Length with Rob Reich on the Failures of Philanthropy

Some rich people give away some of their money. They are philanthropists. They probably see themselves as doing good. Are they? 

Through their wealth, philanthropists influence society. Is that fair?

As it is currently set-up, Rob Reich says it isn’t. Reich (pronounced “reesh”) is a professor of political science and faculty co-director for the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society at Stanford. He has written “Just Giving: Why Philanthropy Is Failing Democracy And How it Can Do Better.”

Rob Reich will be talking about the cons and pros of philanthropy with Jeff Raikes,co-founder of the Raikes Foundation and one-time CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 

This Town Hall event takes place at the Impact Hub on 2nd Avenue in downtown Seattle, Wednesday November 28that 7:30,

(I didn’t have a great Skype connection with Reich, so there are a few electronic glitches in the audio. My apologies.)

Here is an annotation of our interview.

02:12 The organizing institutions of philanthropies in the U.S.

03:05 School fundraising prompted his interest.

05:24 Why are philanthropies tax exempt?

06:20 Rockefeller and the dawn of modern foundations.

10:02 Is having lots of money inherently undemocratic?

11:45 Philanthropies contribute to the calcification of society.

16:24 The tax advantages of philanthropy

19:30 Big philanthropic institutions should pioneer new ideas.

26:56 Why not take away their tax exemptions and deductions.

29:10 Why Phil Knight should have burned his 400 million dollar gift to Stanford.

31:48 The appropriate attitude is to engage in our government. Philanthropy should support government efforts, not circumvent them.

34:59 The philanthropists who work that way.

36:18 The confusion over political giving and philanthropies

39:12 On-stage with Jeff Raikes