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Reclaiming the Moral Life of Philanthropy?

Delivering an address entitled “Reclaiming the Moral Life of Philanthropy” at MIT in September 2010, Atlantic Philanthropies president Gara LaMarche noted that he felt:

“a disquiet about the way we in the foundation world, along with the organisations we support and the infrastructure many of us have helped to build, have mirrored trends in the political world to talk about what we do and why we are doing it in ways that have strayed too far from first principles. We have become more about the fix, the intervention — to use a horribly dominant word in the field that calls to mind invading armies — than about the reasons for doing or caring about it. In marching under the flag of what works, and in particular what can be proven or demonstrated through the rigors of evidence, we risk straying too far from what is right. I think it is time to strike a better balance.”

Has philanthropy begun to lose its moral bearings? Has it become more concerned with the means than the ends? We wrestled with these questions and others as we discussed Mr. Lamarche’s speech on July 21st.

Required Reading

Gara LaMarche, Speech: Reclaiming the Moral Life of Philanthropy, September 27, 2010 at the Starr Forum, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

William Schambra, Moderator

Hudson Senior Fellow and Director, Bradley Center for Philanthropy & Civic Renewal

Phil Buchanan, Panelist

President of the Center for Effective Philanthropy

Gara LaMarche, Panelist

President and CEO of The Atlantic Philanthropies

Leslie Lenkowsky, Panelist

Professor of Public Affairs and Philanthropic Studies at Indiana University

Maya Wiley, Panelist

Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Social Inclusion

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