The Philanthrocapitalist Manifesto

By Clare Yeowart 29 January 2010

On Monday night I went to the launch of the ‘Philanthrocapitalist Manifesto’ and a new edition of Philanthropcapitalism: how giving can save the world, by Matthew Bishop, US Business Editor of The Economist, and ‘recovering bureaucrat’ Michael Green.

As politicians prepare for public spending cuts and election campaigns, Bishop and Green want to kick-start a debate about the role that philanthropy can, and should, play in tackling today’s problems.

Their manifesto highlights the value of philanthropy in driving social innovation. Unlike government, philanthropists can afford to take risks and try out new ways of doing things. If these new approaches prove successful, then government can scale them up and philanthropists can see their investment sustained. So, by working in partnership, both parties benefit.

From NPC’s point of view, it was great to see the manifesto stress the need for better giving, as well as more giving. It calls for greater accountability about what public funding for charities achieves, and better information about impact—too often, it notes, it is ‘a matter of faith rather than fact that charities are effective in delivering services’.

As anyone who reads this blog knows, improving the effectiveness of charities and funders is what we’re all about at NPC. And we believe that it should be a priority for government too. After all, government invests billions of pounds of public money into charities every year, both through direct funding and through tax relief. But without information about impact, how can it tell what this investment achieves?

At NPC we are keen to continue this debate. We are working with government—using our research and analysis to inform policymakers and to evaluate the success of government funding programmes. This Spring we will also publish a paper setting out NPC’s position on policy and discussing how government might sharpen its focus on impact. Watch this space. And if you’d like to find out more about our public affairs work in the meantime, please do drop me a line.