Donors made it possible for students in Virginia Tech’s University Honors program to develop a public health project in La Ceiba, Honduras.
I read an interesting article this morning in a back issue of The Atlantic about the rise of the new global elite, and while much of the piece detailed the growing gulf between the haves and the have nots — alarming, to say the least — I was particularly struck by the mention of the concept of “philanthrocapitalism,” a term coined by journalists Matthew Bishop and Michael Green, authors of a book by the same name.
Increasingly, some of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful citizens are using their resources to tackle big societal problems. Witness the broad portfolio of causes supported by the Gates Foundation, for example, or Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million commitment to improve public schools in Newark, N.J.
But what strikes me most about this notion is that while such initiatives differ in many ways from philanthropy in support of Virginia Tech — most notably in scale — they’re alike in many ways too.
Our donors also are looking for ways to tackle big problems, but rather than address these stubborn issues on their own, they are partnering with the university to exercise their philanthropic will — tapping into our innovative thinking, our global reach, and our research capacity. And if you ask me, that’s a win-win proposition, and a smart business decision to boot.
Post by Michael Kiser, director, Virginia Tech Office of Development Communications