On Philanthropy was emblematic of our simultaneously inductive and deductive process, in which a topic that is crucial to MoMA’s own existence becomes a way to discuss crucial issues in the world at large. Peter Singer’s inflammatory 2013 “Good Charity, Bad Charity” New York Times op-ed condensed an apparent moral conundrum—comparing the relative value of giving to the arts with giving to charities that are actively working to cure physiological blindness. There are, however, many other nuances worth addressing, from the problem of the word “charity” to crowdsourcing, online fundraising, and new formats like nonprofit investment funds and benefit corporations.
Watch the videos from the salon and explore some of these questions: What are the roots and rationales of philanthropy in the U.S., past and present? How do the priorities of millennial philanthropists differ from the as-yet-not-so-old guard? How is the Internet having an impact on philanthropic infrastructure? In the absence of effective metrics and with a rhetorical deficit, what can cultural institutions do to prove their impact?
The salon took place on January 13th, 2015.
David Rockefeller, Jr. is Board Chair of The Rockefeller Foundation, and a longstanding MoMA trustee. His paternal grandmother, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, was one of the three founding “ladies” of The Museum of Modern Art. David has also served on the board of the National Endowment for the Arts and National Public Radio. He is the founder and president of Sailors for the Sea, a nonprofit organization that encourages boaters to preserve and protect the sea. He holds a law degree from Harvard University.
Jean Oelwang is CEO of Virgin Unite, the independent charitable arm of the Virgin Group. Prior to joining Virgin Unite, Jean lived and worked on five continents while helping to lead successful mobile-phone start-ups around the world. Jean has long explored the overlap of the business and social sectors, having worked for the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife in Australia, and in numerous volunteer roles, including a stint as a VISTA volunteer where she worked with—and learned from—homeless teens in Chicago.
Neil Blumenthal is cofounder and co-CEO of Warby Parker, a lifestyle brand offering designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially conscious businesses. Prior to launching Warby Parker in 2010, Neil served as director of VisionSpring, a nonprofit that trains low-income women to sell affordable eyeglasses to individuals in the developing world. In 2012, he was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company.
Jennifer McCrea is senior research fellow at the Hauser Institute for Civil Society at Harvard University; chairman of the Advisory Board at MIT Media Lab; and cofounder and CEO of Born Free, an initiative of the Millenium Development Goals Health Alliance that brings private-sector resources and expertise to the goal of eradicating mother-to-child HIV transmission by 2015. In her role as fundraiser, Jennifer has collaborated with organizations such as Acumen, DonorsChoose.org, and Grameen American, to name just a few.
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