Dec 5, 2019

The season of philanthropy

Expand chart
Data: Giving Tuesday; Chart: Axios Visuals

As noted in Axios' Philanthropy Deep Dive on Saturday, philanthropists are big-picture strategic thinkers who generally want to use their money to influence government. By their nature, they're generally unaccountable and undemocratic forces in society.

The big picture: Giving Tuesday, which just passed, is a countervailing force to the prevailing philanthropic winds. It serves no strategic purpose; it merely encourages ordinary citizens to give money to charity on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. (The bigger long-term trend is that household donations to charity are declining, rather than rising.)

  • This year, Giving Tuesday raised an estimated $511 million for charity online, and $2 billion in total — all in a distributed, democratic manner.

The news headlines, however, went to the New York Philharmonic, which is attempting to raise $550 million to refurbish its current home.

  • That project involves removing more than 500 seats from the auditorium and disappearing Richard Lippold's glistening "Orpheus and Apollo" sculpture.
  • The exterior of the orchestra's home will not be touched, which has helped keep the budget below the previous $900 million estimate. Still, $15 million has already been spent paying the family of Avery Fisher to allow his eponymous hall to be renamed in honor of David Geffen.

Go deeper: Billionaires build new "benevolent aristocracy"

Go deeper

Deep Dive: Billionaires build new "benevolent aristocracy"

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If charity is giving alms to the needy, then philanthropy is charity's more high-minded and strategic relation.

The big picture: Philanthropists don't want to give a man a fish; instead they want to take credit for building a proof-of-concept that will persuade governments around the world to invest in large-scale programs of fishing pedagogy.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Nov 30, 2019 - Technology

"Giving Circles," which pool money for a cause, are on the rise

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Philanthropy tends to center on a small number of affluent donors, but a grassroots movement known as "giving circles" — in which more modest donors pool their resources — has been gaining popularity.

The big picture: Giving circles are still a drop in the philanthropic bucket, but proponents say they open the field to younger and more diverse donors — and broaden the reach of giving.

Go deeperArrowNov 30, 2019

For space billionaires, their companies are their gift

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Billionaires Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are casting the fortunes they've spent on building new rockets to help humankind escape our home planet as a far greater legacy than funding more terrestrial good deeds.

The big picture: They're reframing for-profit businesses — SpaceX and Blue Origin — in philanthropic terms.

Go deeperArrowNov 30, 2019