Philanthropy, philosophy and taxes

Where does philanthropy end and dirty self-promotion begin?  This was the question posed at the recent and fabulous Auckland Writer’s Festival to British philosopher Julian Baggini, economist and philanthropist Gareth Morgan and me by Radio NZ presenter Wallace Chapman.

Here’s how we answered this question – plus a few other key points:

  • Philanthropy ends when a product or service, usually naming rights, is purchased.  While large donations to institutions in return for naming rights are often called  philanthropy, they are more properly considered sponsorship.  Why?  Because under most definitions of philanthropy, there is no expectation of a direct exchange or reciprocation.
  • Philanthropy, or the giving of financial resources, sits within a wider family of generosity, which includes the giving of time, acts of kindness and helping strangers. All of us – individuals, families and institutions, can and are generous in one or more of these ways.
  • A show of hands revealed that 65 – 70% of the audience had given money in the previous month.
  • Philanthropy can’t and shouldn’t take the place of government, and our communities  need both government funding through taxation and philanthropy to function well.  It’s not either taxes or philanthropy – it’s both.
  • A startling 80% of the room would be prepared to pay more tax in order to address issues like homelessness. And so would I.

It was a privilege to be part of this entertaining and interesting panel discussion – thanks to Auckland Communities Foundation for making this possible.

Have a listen to the full podcast below.

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