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Philanthropy Management: Governments with Good Intentions Suffer from Philanthropic "Attention Deficit"

LONDON, Oct. 9, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- In an interview with Philanthropy Management, "Philanthrocapitalism" co-author Michael Green laments that fundamental constraints keep governments from acting as a catalyst for philanthropic innovation.

According to Green, a major obstacle that hampers popularly-elected governments is what he terms philanthropic "attention deficit." Due to frequent elections, politicians see little upside to supporting philanthropic initiatives that might upset even a modest segment of the electorate. Furthermore, the results of such initiatives may be evident only after the next election. As a result, there is little staying power or follow-through from one election cycle to the next.

Green noted that politicians also are prone to react to headlines. Philanthropy Management editor Richard Schwartz commented, "While a good decision may be helpful to a political career, getting something wrong is often disproportionately punished." Consequently, there is little appetite for long-term thinking or innovation. 

According to Green, the response to malaria from governments versus the private sector is illustrative. Unlike AIDS, malaria doesn't appear often in headlines, so the deadly illness never became a cause celebre for European or US politicians. Enter the Gates Foundation, which brought together governments and private philanthropies in an effort to eradicate the disease. By 2010, said Green, "malaria deaths had dropped 25% since 2000." The lesson for philanthropists, he told Schwartz, is the "need to identify a problem that can be solved and then create a coalition of the willing."

The complete interview is available in the Autumn print edition. An extract, where Green addresses the popularity of impact investing, can be found at the recently-launched, which highlights multimedia offerings and provides daily online-only content.

About Philanthropy Management
Philanthropy Management, an Asset International publication, focuses on the financial, operational and strategic services provided to foundations, endowments and other large-scale grant makers by banks, asset managers and other professional advisors. Edited by Richard Schwartz, it is distributed globally to more than 11,000 senior executives within the largest grant making entities in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Middle East, including foundations and endowments, family foundations and family offices.  Philanthropy Management aims to provide philanthropic institutions with a broader and more refined range of tools, resources and research to measure their own success and the impact of the advisors they use. Please visit

About Asset International
Asset International is a privately-held provider of information and technology to global pension funds, asset managers, financial advisers, banking service providers, and other financial institutions in the private and public sector. Its industry-leading brands include Strategic Insight, SIMFUND, Plan For Life, PLANSPONSOR, PLANADVISER, aiCIO, Philanthropy Management, Global Custodian, and The Trade. The company has offices in New York, Hong Kong, London, Melbourne and Stamford, CT.

SOURCE Asset International