World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Philanthropy & Social Investing

In November, I’ll have the honor of joining the newly formed World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Philanthropy & Social Investing. The Council includes:

  • Paul Brest, president of the Hewlett Foundation
  • Matthew Bishop, US business editor of The Economist magazine who coined the word “philanthrocapitalism”
  • Jed Emerson, one of the founders of the movement towards understanding “blended value” or the fact that both nonprofits and for-profits create both social and financial value
  • Jim Fruchterman, CEO of Benetech
  • Jacqueline Novogratz, founder and CEO of Acumen Fund

That’s only a handful of the incredible group of people on the Council. Now the World Economic Forum was founded by Klaus Schwab who also founded the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. There’s no doubt that the world view of the World Economic Forum is centered around the idea that business and business thinking is a force for good. I’m not surprised to see that Michael Edwards, formerly of the Ford Foundation and author of Just Another Emperor: The Myths and Realities of Philanthrocapitalism, is not on the council.

The first meeting of the Council will be at a conference being held in Dubai (see some of the unbelievable pictures of Dubai here. 25% of the world’s construction cranes are hard at work building a shocking array of projects). The conference proceedings are strictly off the record, but I’ll certainly be blogging about my general reactions and my trip to the Persian Gulf.

I believe that the role of business thinking in philanthropy, the concept of Philanthrocapitalism, and the future course of social entrepreneurship are all topics still very much up for debate. More than anything, I think the topics are cursed by a rather limited agreed on set of definitions and the fact that people on each side of these issues seem to inherantly distrust each other.

I’ve never sought to be a spokesperson for “business thinking” in philanthropy. Personally I believe that like many issues in life, the issues up for debate here are not black and white and we must seek to identify the elements of value in various world views.


  1. Jon Brooks says:

    Congratulations, Sean.

    Great to hear about a council focusing on philanthropy/SI. I look forward to reading your thoughts and reactions (of whatever is allowed on the record!).

  2. Alvaro says:

    Sean, this is great. I am participating in another Council (challenges of gerontology), but have been very active in social entrepreneurship for a while, so look forward meeting you in person.

  3. I look forward to meeting you too Alvaro.