Pushing for Philanthropic Accountability
Philanthropy is a remarkably human impulse: the love of humanity expressed through gifts of resources.
The philanthropic industry is another thing altogether, and like many systems, it needs a dramatic overhaul. In the Compton Foundation’s final years, we’re dedicating time and resources to amplify the call to reduce wealth hoarding, reform tax policy, and ultimately redistribute resources into the public good, where they belong.
We’re committed to reforming philanthropy because we’ve wrestled with tough questions about the very nature of our work. This foundation was endowed by a wealthy family with beautiful intentions. Over many decades, their descendants were able to give away that money—toward solving the problems they personally cared about, and the solutions they thought were best. But if we really care about democracy and creating a better future for everyone, we can’t rely on the well-intentioned whims of a wealthy few.
Now, we’re part of a growing chorus of advocates supporting practical policies that will make philanthropy more democratic and accountable to the public. These include increasing foundation mandatory payout rates, regulating foundations that want to exist in perpetuity, and instituting a wealth tax that would enable our elected representatives to allocate resources in a way that benefits everyone.
Along the way, we’ve learned a lot from those who are on this same journey. We applaud courageous leaders like Clara Miller and Carmen Rojas, who are asking hard questions and challenging philanthropy’s often self-satisfied attitude. Groups like Solidaire and Resource Generation are supporting wealthy donors to also rethink how they can use their wealth to redistribute power and resources. We need more voices like theirs.