Philanthropy

John Gapper

I have a review in the FT of Matthew Bishop and Michael Green’s book Philanthrocapitalism, a look at the growth of giving by rich people in recent years. This is how it starts:

This is not the ideal time to publish a book on how very wealthy people – including many bankers and business leaders – can do great things. Read more

John Gapper

Today being National Corporate Philanthropy Day in the US (the first I had heard of it, I have to admit), I went to a gathering of chief executives whose companies give money to good causes or encourage employees to volunteer.

I had a chance to quiz three of the CEOs there – Jim Rohr of PNC Financial Services, Ivan Seidenberg of Verizon and Sidney Taurel of Eli Lilly – about their companies’ involvement in something that, on the face of it, does not benefit shareholders.

Famously, Milton Friedman argued that “the social responsibility of business is to increase its profits” and that a lot of corporate philanthropy was at best misguided, although some could be justified if it served other corporate purposes, such as increasing the loyalty of customers. Read more

One thing that struck me at the Clinton Global Initiative conference last week was how its priorities – cleaning up the environment, eradicating poverty, improving education in developing countries etc – have been adopted seamlessly by many companies.

It is a stark contrast with a few years ago, when the anti-globalisation movement clashed with corporations over their lack of social and environmental standards. Many US corporations, for example, seem notably more enthusiastic than the US government about initiatives to halt global warming.

Michael Porter, the Harvard professor and management guru, turned up at the CGI with a theory to back this notion.

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Angelina_jolie_2 To the Clinton Global Initiative annual philanthropy summit, which is being held a block away from the FT office in New York, to see Angelina Jolie.

Ms Jolie was giving a press conference jointly with Gene Sperling of the Council on Foreign Relations about their initiative to promote education in conflict-hit regions of the world. They had assembled 18 projects that will place 350,000 children in school.

Quite a few others seemed to have had the same idea. As Mr Sperling introduced the event, he was lit by a battery of flashes from the cameras trained on Ms Jolie. "Boy, this happens to me everywhere I go," he remarked.

My impressions were, in the following order:

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