In this interview, Rhodri Davies talks about his most recent book, ‘Public Good by Private Means’ -which narrates the history of British philanthropy- and about the purpose and challenges of modern philanthropy, not only in England, but around the globe.
In regards to the current role of philanthropy, he states that it is vital to society, not only because it complements governments’ efforts to solve some of society’s’ most complex issues, but also because it “provides people with a means to question politicians of the day and their decisions”, thus challenging the status quo. Even more, he claims that in a healthy democracy, philanthropy supports a pluralist civil society in which citizens can gather, collaborate, pressure and even ‘fight’ for what they think is right.
On the other hand, Davies also talks about the challenges posed on private philanthropists by policy-makers and the effects of different taxation systems on donations. He thinks that “ any tax relief on donations offered by government should be seen as a generalized subsidy for a pluralist civil society. Any sophisticated, mature government would see that as fundamental to the health of democracy even if it’s often quite uncomfortable”.
The interview ends with a final warn to philanthropists. He says that they have an obligation of giving without degrading or dehumanizing beneficiaries; philanthropy should not seek self-indulgence, but empowering those who need help.
The complete interview can be found here: Alliance Magazine