Book Launch – Just Giving: Why Philanthropy Is Failing Democracy and How It Can Do Better

November 27th, 2018 - 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm

Bechtel Conference Center – Encina Hall 616 Serra Street
Stanford, CA 94305

The troubling ethics and politics of philanthropy


Are the announcements of Jeff Bezos or the operations of Chan Zuckerberg things we should celebrate?

Is philanthropy, by its very nature, a threat to today’s democracy? Though we may laud wealthy individuals who give away their money for society’s benefit, Just Giving shows how such generosity not only isn’t the unassailable good we think it to be but might also undermine democratic values and set back aspirations of justice. Big philanthropy is often an exercise of power, the conversion of private assets into public influence. And small philanthropy, or ordinary charitable giving, can be problematic as well. Charity, it turns out, does surprisingly little to provide for those in need and sometimes worsens inequality.

These outcomes are shaped by the policies that define and structure philanthropy. When, how much, and to whom people give is influenced by laws governing everything from the creation of foundations and nonprofits to generous tax exemptions for donations of money and property.

What attitude and what policies should democracies have concerning individuals who give money away for public purposes?


  • 6:30 pm - 7:00 pm - Doors Open and Pre-Reception
  • 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm - Interview
  • 8:00 pm - 8:30 pm - Q&A
  • 8:30 pm - 9:00 pm - Book Signing and Post-Reception


  • Rob Reich - Professor of Political Science at Stanford, faculty codirector for Stanford PACS, and faculty director of the Digital Civil Society Lab, faculty director for Center in Ethics and Society
  • Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar - Board Chair, Center for Advanced Study and Behavioral Sciences, Former Director, Freeman Spogli Institute and Stanley Morrison Professor of Law and Professor of Political Science, all at Stanford University, and Board Member, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
  • Nicole Taylor - Vice President, ASU Foundation and Incoming President & CEO, Silicon Valley Community Foundation

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