Starting off our series on ‘Images of Philanthropy’ is an analogy put forward by John Bare, Vice President for Programs at The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation. Commenting on the challenges of trying to come up with a unified theory of philanthropy – and wondering about the extent to which this is a useful exercise with wider relevance in the first place – he argues that:

Chasing a theory of philanthropy is like considering a theory of ice cream.

It’s everywhere. No two concoctions are alike, but they all use the same labels. Some of it is very good. Not much of it is truly awful. All of which argues against wasting time in pursuit of a theory. Just enjoy what you can get your hands on, and move on.

Bare, J (2015), Independent Commentary No 2 on Theory of Philanthropy, The Foundation Review, 7(4):61-63


Drawing on some of the findings from our ‘Images of Philanthropy’ Initiative, each entry in this accompanying blog series introduces one image that has been put forward in an academic or non-academic context to depict or characterise an aspect of philanthropy in its different forms and expressions.

For further information about the ‘Images of Philanthropy’ Initiative, please contact Dr Tobias Jung.