Saturday, April 14, 2007

Global Philanthropy Forum, that is, Philanthropy 3.0

In the last 3 days I had the opportunity to participate to the 6th edition of the Global Philanthropy Forum who took place in the Mountain View Google offices. More than 600 of the most influential people in Philanthropy, business and social entrepreneurship gathered from across the world.

From the very first moment it became very clear we are living a topic moment in the so called “philanthropic” world. We are assisting at a total convergence between the private and the social sector. To Judith Rodin (president of the Rockefeller Foundation) words: we are now leaving Phylantropy 3.0, as opposed to 1.0 of the beginning of the 1900 (donations) and 2.0, after WWII, characterized by the Program centered philanthropic organizations.

I bet the term coined by Judith will become part of our daily buzzwords, much like the Tim O’Reilly intuition of Web 2.0.

We are now officially in the era of “phylantrepreneurs” where the difference between a VC found and a foundation, a hot start-up and social venture become totally blurry.

Honestly, to get to that conclusion, we just had to look around, and see the faces of the participants amongst the panelists and the public: Marc Benioff, Larry Brilliant, Alan Patricof, Jean and Steve Case, William Draper, etc. etc.

And clearly, the host itself, Google and his Philanthropic arm (effectively a for-profit organization) as a clear example.

Indeed, Larry and Sergey (accompanied by Larry Brilliant) interviewed by the always subtle and jovial Jane Wales (president of the Forum) were one of the various hits of the gathering. Larry and Sergey (who once again alone decreased of a good 15 years the average age of the participants) clearly demonstrated how Philanthropy 3.0 can be a direct effect of Web 2.0. How the approach of “Don’t be evil” (who Sergey wants to change into “DO good”…) can be the common denominator between a successful company maniacally focused on doing something of direct value for the users and the so-far called “Extra-world” of Philanthropy (that in Greek means “love for mankind”).

And it was interesting to see how the newest and the oldest in the house ( and the Rockefeller Foundation) would move together hand in hand, sure to have come to the same conclusions, although coming from very different paths…

The conference unfolded with an impressive set of hands-on experiences and panels on how it’s come the time to apply the best lessons learned in the plain vanilla- business (its talents and resources) to have a wider look at the opportunities offered by the “social” sector and developing world.

I personally had some memorable conversations with Ali Mufuruki (founder of the African Leadership Initiative) and representatives from Avina who described me the amazing work done with the Recyclable Material Pickers (read the 2 millions of people living over mountains of garbage) all throughout Latin America (Ciudad Saludable).

The grand finale (a few hours ago) was in the hands and vision of the always appreciated Bill Clinton, who, more and more, reminds me (even physically) of Jimmy Carter (who really impressed me at Google a few months back). I’m sure Bill won’t get offended by the comparison…the two are really merging their paths…


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