Is big philanthropy inherently undemocratic, or does it help create a vibrant civil society? This debate has been going on since the first private foundations were created by the likes of Rockefeller and Carnegie more than 100 years ago. But the debate has become more heated and important in recent years as wealth inequality has grown and the power that billionaires can wield over society through their philanthropy has increased. This session will explore whether large private foundations and wealthy philanthropists are benefiting society and helping strengthen our democracy or if they are instead serving their private interests and helping create a plutocracy.
Rob Reich, professor of political science and co-director of the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society at Stanford University, will argue that big philanthropy undermines democracy. Larry Kramer, president, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation will argue that big philanthropy plays an important role in helping fund nonprofit organizations that are a vital part of a vibrant civil society, the foundation of democracy. Eric Nee, editor in chief of Stanford Social Innovation Review, will moderate what is sure to be an inspiring and spirited discussion.