Philanthropy in Practice: Pragmatism and the Impact of Philanthropic Action, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Philanthropy in Practice

Pragmatism and the Impact of Philanthropic Action, 1st Edition

By Ekkehard Thümler


222 pages

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pub: 2017-07-26
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Philanthropic foundations are experiencing a crisis of professional identity. They attract considerable hopes due to an unusually high degree of independence and freedom of manoeuvre, which theoretically places them in a privileged position to find novel solutions to societies’ most severe and intractable problems. However, the field is said to suffer from a pervasive lack of orientation as to how these aspirations can be realized. Compared to other professions, it can be said that there exists neither reliable knowledge nor established practices which might guide the strategy development and the daily practice of foundations. This void is frequently filled by changing fads which present easy to grasp recipes and often make bold promises of how foundations can change the world.

Yet, none of them has ever met these expectations. Philanthropy in Practice shows how philanthropic organizations can effectively address this predicament. Drawing on the public philosophy of Pragmatism, it argues that, to be effective, they need to go for the solution of social problems of middle range.

The book puts at center stage the crucial role of niches in terms of bounded, protected and stable social spaces which are rich in resources. They render possible the experiments required to develop effective interventions and facilitate the retention of novel solutions to social problems. The model builds upon, and is illustrated by four in-depth case studies from the UK, Germany and Switzerland.

With its sharp analytical eye and substantial evidence, Philanthropy in Practice will reshape the way we think about the questions of what impact philanthropy can reasonably hope to achieve, and by which means.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Contemporary Philanthropy and its Problems

PART 1: Theory

2. Pragmatism and the Evolution of Intelligent Social Action

3. Mapping the Space of Social Problems

4. A Contingency Model of Problem Solving Strategies

5. The Role of Niches in Processes of (Social) Innovation

Part 2: Case Studies

6. The Chance: Opening the Doors to the Labour Market for Disadvantaged Youth

7. Foundation Interkultur and the Intercultural Garden Movement: Catalyzing Emerging Practice at the Grassroots

8. The Nuffield Foundation and the Nuffield Council on Bioethics: Organizing the Provision of Nonpartisan Expertise

9. The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and the Campaign for Freedom of Information: Campaigning for Access to Files

Part 3: Analysis

10. From Experimentation to Exploration: The Pragmatic Model of Action in Philanthropic Practice

11. Explanations for Social Impact: The Door Opener Mechanism

12. Towards a Model of Philanthropic Niches and Intelligent Niching

13. Conclusion and Outlook

About the Author

Ekkehard Thümler is Director of the Program "Personal Development" at the Joachim Herz Foundation in Hamburg, Germany.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in the Management of Voluntary and Non-Profit Organizations

Voluntary and non-profit organizations are playing an increasingly significant role, worldwide, in the provision and management of public services. Drawing together significant and ground breaking research, this series will be essential reading for students of public policy and management as well as the thinking manager. Topics covered include the management of innovation and change, financial management, performance evaluation and management and organizational development and project management.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Industries / General
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Nonprofit Organizations & Charities / Management & Leadership
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Government & Business