By Edgar Villanueva
After an unprecedented year of crisis that has left tens of millions across the globe unemployed, without health care, and struggling to put food on the table, Larry Kramer, president of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, offers his solution: philanthropists should give less money to those in need. If foundations hold on to their resources now, he reasons that they will accumulate and preserve more capital to address future problems.
First, we must acknowledge that it is an enormous privilege for us to be in the position to even debate the question of how much foundations should be spending in this moment while so many are suffering. But let’s be clear: Kramer is making an argument for what is beneficial for the longevity of a foundation, rather than what will actually solve the problems our communities face now and in the future. Any foundation grappling with whether or not to increase giving in this moment should be deeply interrogating where that hesitation stems from. It’s not about concern for future generations—it’s about legacy, power, and control.
Kramer’s article demonstrates that he cares more about his foundation’s spending power than its healing power. His argument rests on the premise that present investments are not made in relation to future needs, but the fact is that future problems will be exacerbated as a result of failing to spend now.
The decision to withhold funding from those most impacted by this pandemic is a choice to defer the problem at hand and prolong the suffering of our communities. We could significantly alleviate the devastation of COVID-19 if we dramatically redistributed wealth right now. If we don’t, the problems we see today will impact generations to come.
Read the full article about future funding by Edgar Villanueva at Stanford Social Innovation Review.
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