The Emergence of Consumer Philanthropy

Gifts OnPhilanthropy's Tom Watson is becoming Mr. Philanthropy in no small part behind tags that capture  the emerging gestalt including his newest:  "consumer philanthropy." He opines on the phrase in  his most recent entry to the Huffington Post:

The U.S. economy is almost entirely driven (some would say propped up) by consumer spending and has been for a generation now. But this year, there's another big story out there - where philanthropy fits in during the buying spree. Because consumer marketers now know in full what we've suspcted for while: for the American consumer, you are what you give.

With philanthropy moguls like Bono, Branson, Clinton, Gates and Buffet on the cover of many magazines, special year-end giving sections thickening the papers, and the traditional 11th hour tax-driven charity season upon us, philanthropy is as hot as ever in the consumer consicence. And these days, you can't peruse the advertising without bumping into one good cause after another.

These are the days, without question, of consumer philanthropy.

It's hard to disagree with Tom's assessment.  The real question is how the engines behind consumer philanthropy could be turned to generating donations for those ideas that yield real impact.  (All ideas for creating social change are NOT created equal.)  Could consumer philanthropy bring out the competitive shopper in each of us that demands to know how our donations could do good better?

Susan Herr

Posted at 8:35 AM, Nov 29, 2006 in Scaling Philanthropy | Permalink | Comment