Thursday, August 16, 2007

Thinking about Philanthropy and its Roles

I read a post on New Voices in Philanthropy coincidentally the night the bridge collapsed in Minneapolis because I wanted to reference Trista’s blog in the upcoming EPIP newsletter. That night she had posted a question about what philanthropy should do in response and her question was embedded in my mind the day after as I listened to coverage of the bridge collapse in Minneapolis. Especially when I was driving around Denver and witnessed two news crews filming bridges over I-25 that were crumbling - ah, the sensationalist press.

I think another role not mentioned in her post is how foundations can affect policy change. Specifically, within the government's taxing structure, which continually has a negative spin to it by politicians and the press. The government needs money to prevent tragedies like this and the way government is funded is through taxes. Of course, some would argue that government wastes the money it has. Funding advocacy groups or watchdog groups who could step in with some oversight could be another role for philanthropy. Or, we could just rely on our systems of checks and balances.

What is your experience with public policy change? Should foundations have a role? If so, what should it be?

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