New Philanthropy vs. Old Philanthropy, a false Dichotomy?

I listened to a variety of very interesting speakers at the Council of Foundations annual conference that have made me rethink my position on old philanthropy versus new philanthropy. In a previous post, “Are Foundations Becoming Obsolete”, I said that successful foundations are using new methods to be more effective. After listening to Melinda Gates describe how the Gates Foundation was developed after doing a systematic study of other successful foundations, I stand corrected. They made a conscious effort to harness the knowledge that had already been developed in the foundation field, instead of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. One of the detriments of being someone that is new to the foundation field is that you don’t have the benefit of history when you are thinking about effective models for moving the field forward. Sterling K. Speirn the CEO of the Kellogg Foundation said “don’t fall into the new philanthropy versus old philanthropy argument, instead take time to read philanthropic history to learn from past innovations.” Through the application of knowledge and the development of fresh ideas, we can change the world.