An open secret among people who work closely with foundation support, as I used to. Philanthropy has taken on the trappings of venture capital, and not often for the better.
I’m particularly unsettled by the outsized influence Gates Foundation has had on school reform, which should–messy though it is–be a democratic political process, not a question of oligarchs saying “this is what school is for.”
A strong article from The Awl.
Meanwhile, without any significant public claims on foundation largess, the general run of charitable spending in the United States has taken on the protective coloration of American business culture. At every level, charitable grants have come more and more to resemble investment projects, with a specific, measurable return on equity in mind. Among the dozens of sources I’ve interviewed on the state of the foundation world, every one has singled out this trend as a major shift.