Following on from October’s ESRC Seminar Philanthropy today? Philanthropy tomorrow? in St Andrews, Dr Susan Wilkinson Maposa wrote up her paper for the April 2017 edition of the Maecenata Observatorium series. 

“The concept of philanthropy is usually identified with the vertical flow of resources from those of high net wealth (the rich) to those of lesser means (the poor), as exemplified in the international aid system. In this familiar model, resources (typically financial) are provided by one community to assist or benefit another. External resources are mobilised to address a deficit and fill a gap. While this is one key representation of giving and typically the first one that comes to mind when we hear the word “philanthropy” – meaning a “love of human kind”, it is not the only one. There is an alternative model based on the horizontal flow of resources from people within the same community. In this case, people held together by a shared identity, context and general situation mobilise the money, time and talent that exists within their community to assist or benefit one another: existing resources are redistributed, getting them to where they are needed most. This practice, exemplified in self- help, reciprocity and mutual assistance, is typically found in cultures and contexts where the way of life is grounded in collectivism rather than individualism. This horizontal philanthropy perspective is an alternative model to the more widely recognised vertical form…” The full paper is freely accessible by clicking here.