Questioning Big Philanthropy At The Skoll World Forum: Is It Too Powerful And Out Of Touch?
By Kerry A. Dolan
At a conference about nonprofit endeavors and the people who run them, big philanthropy came under the microscope.
Last week at the Skoll World Forum, 1,200 people from 81 countries gathered at the University of Oxford, England, to celebrate those deemed to be the world’s most promising social entrepreneurs—people on a mission to make a positive change in areas that governments and for-profit businesses have overlooked, ignored or failed at. There were CEOs of billionaire-backed foundations, philanthropy consultants and hundreds of smart, risk-taking individuals working on solutions to a host of knotty problems. Call it Davos for the nonprofit set.
The conference was put on by the charitable foundation of billionaire philanthropist Jeff Skoll, who built a fortune as the first president and first hire at online auction house eBay. There were panels discussing pressing issues, including how best to treat refugee children and how to feed an expected global population of 10 billion in the face of climate change. There was an Oscars-style ceremony for five winning social entrepreneurs, each of whom was awarded $1.5 million. And there was some soul searching.
Photo courtesy of Skoll Foundation.