Last month the Council on Foundations CEO Steve Gunderson released a public statement condemning the new NBC drama The Philanthropist. I followed up the next day with my own review of the premier and argued that it was really quite good.
Now, thanks to the Hudson Institute’s Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civic Renewal and The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Steve and I will get to debate our views in person on July 21 in Washington DC. Plus, we’ll be joined by the show’s co-creator, executive producer, and writer Tom Fontana as well as Chronicle of Philanthropy reporter Ian Wilhelm. The Hudson Institute’s Bill Schambra and Chronicle of Philanthropy editor in chief Stacy Palmer will co-moderate the discussion.
One of my core arguments in favor of the show is that philanthropy as a profession tends to use complex jargon and an academic approach to the field as a way to insulate ourselves from “the mainstream” and identify ourselves as “insiders”. It seems to me that if we want philanthropy to be embraced as a cultural norm, shows like The Philanthropist, even if they are far from perfect, are important entry points into our field that are accessible to everyday Americans.
So my question to you is what do you think the important elements are for a show that strives for mainstream acceptance while maintaining philanthropic integrity?
You can find more information about attending next week’s debate here.