Gimme 5: Best of the web for the week of 7th April

Friday again, so it’s round-up time, but a bit earlier than usual. Partly because I’m on a half day today, and partly because this week has seen such a rich crop of philanthropy stories that this top five has burst from my fingers in a blur of keystrokes so it is ready before 10am. Hope you enjoy (you even get a bonus story this week!)


1)  At number one is this story about an embarrassing corporate philanthropy  foul-up by the US restaurant chain Chili’s, reported in the Los Angeles Times. Chili’s was forced to cancel a fundraising event  for an autism charity during Autism Awareness Month, after it emerged that the charity in question promotes the discredited link between child vaccinations and autism and hundred people took to social media to point this out to the company. Oops. An object lesson in how not to do corporate giving.


2) Another week, another intriguing story that throws up all sorts of questions about the role of philanthropy in relation to the State. This time it is the news reported in Inside Philanthropy that there has been a significant rise in philanthropic efforts aimed at ensuring clean water supplies in the US. This seems counterintuitive: we are used to such efforts in emerging countries (usually funded by Western aid), but the idea that lack of clean drinking water is an issue in America is surprising. And what does the fact that philanthropic efforts are being targeted at this problem say about the governmental response so far?


3) At number three is this piece from IRIN Global looking at how efforts to develop philanthropy in emerging economies can tap into existing non-formal traditions of giving. This caught my eye because it echoes one of the arguments of CAF’s second Future World Giving report on building trust in civil society as a way of encouraging giving. Always nice to know that someone else is thinking what you’re thinking!


4) A potentially worrying story this week was the finding of a report which claimed that more Americans are choosing “responsible shopping” over charitable giving as a way of giving back to society. I’m not sure the report itself could be described as the most robust piece of research, but the trends it purports to have identified are worth taking note of. This question of whether new forms of “cost-free giving” through cause-related marketing etc will have an adverse effect on traditional charitable giving is something I have mulled over before on this blog, and continues to nag at me.


5) And finally… according to David Cameron, “Jesus invented the Big Society over 2,000 years ago.” Whilst this makes me question the Prime Minister’s grasp of theology, I would suggest that if jesus could explain the Big Society concept in a way that made sense to voters, it would certainly be a candidate to add to his list of miracles…


(BONUS BALL: It’s not strictly about philanthropy, but there was a great article in The Atlantic this week about the history of greed and its relationship to capitalism over the last 300 years. It’s definitely worth a read if you’ve devoured the five above!)



Rhodri Davies

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