Giving Compass' Take:

• In this Stanford Social Innovation Review post, professor Rob Reich argues we must overcome the plutocratic biases baked into big foundations and overhaul philanthropy to make it better serve democratic ends.

• Among the recommendations: setting time limits to foundations and opening them up to peer review, with accountability being the main concern here. Do you agree with his assessment?

• Here's why the social impact sector needs to commit to more self-criticism.

How can philanthropy support democracy? To answer this question, we need to operate on two levels. We need to target and address the injustice at the heart of the most important and most common policy instrument at use in the United States, and in many other countries, concerning philanthropy: the tax deductibility of charitable contributions. Deploying tax concessions in the form of tax-deductible contributions cannot be defended.

We should replace tax deductibility with a flat tax credit for donors. And we need to recognize that even if there were no tax advantages at all, the ultrawealthy would still have enormous power. Big philanthropy, whether tax subsidized or not, is an exercise of power — the attempt to direct private assets toward some public purpose. It is a form of power that is unaccountable, low on transparency, donor directed, and by default perpetual.

Big philanthropy is a plutocratic element in democratic society. The challenge is to craft, through various policies and social norms, a framework that domesticates plutocrats to serve democratic ends.

Read the full article about philanthropy for democracy by Rob Reich at Stanford Social Innovation Review.