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The promises and challenges of diverse philanthropic camps in education: A view from the funders

Tue, April 16, 3:15 to 4:45pm, Hyatt Regency, Pacific Concourse (Level -1), Pacific F


The last few decades have seen a shift from predominantly charity-based models of philanthropy towards increasing attention to acting as a catalyst for systemic change and policy influence, in what has been termed ‘muscular philanthropy’ (Bishop & Green, 2010). At the same time, the internet has allowed for foundations to network and exchange ideas and information with each other and other global actors to a greater extent than ever before, resulting in large member-led knowledge networks and smaller donor collaboratives building knowledge and innovating around specific education topics or policies. All of this points to foundations catalysing a greater impact on the education field than their limited finances alone would suggest.

This case study draws on the data set of the International Education Funders Group, a broad-based knowledge sharing network of over 100 foundations granting to education in Low and Middle Income Countries, to look at several styles or “camps” of philanthropy currently operating in the field of education globally. At first analysis, these camps include not only what has been described as the “Giving Code” philanthropists, but also new philanthropists from emerging economies (who use local philanthropic cultures instead of the international development lexicon), those whose interest is around strengthening civil society (as opposed to impact-focused innovations), and those who fill gaps in the education system through innovation, to name a few. It is argued that the lexicon of each camp may be amplified by the donor collaboratives and sub-networks within which the foundations move. The paper aims to show how each style of philanthropy results in funding for very different types of innovations, knowledge creation, and interactions at the policy table, and how each of these styles holds promises and challenges in impacting the field of education.


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