• Disruptive Philanthropy: Assessing the Challenges of Funding from “Big Tech” for a UK Charity

      Manning, Paul; Baker, Nigel T. (University of Chester, 2020-12-31)
      The immense wealth generated by the technology sector – or Big Tech – since the end of the 20th century has created a new breed of philanthropists, keen to use the business practices of Silicon Valley to ensure their money is employed to optimum social impact. This study considers how a long-established, UK-based journalism charity can understand, and engage with, the new philanthropic practices of the digital economy in to order to fund transformative change, while appreciating, and managing, the associated benefits and risks. A characteristic of the digital economy is that it has blurred conventional boundaries between commercial and philanthropic practices. Accordingly, this study was conducted through the theoretical framework of “hybrid organizations” – defined here as non-profit entities which adopt business practices to achieve social ends but face the challenge of balancing the competing institutional logics of mission and money. This study synthesises the literature on the new, more market-oriented philanthropic models - collectively described here as “disruptive philanthropy” – to provide a conceptual model to guide hybrid, non-profits like the journalism charity that wish to engage with the digital economy. The model is then used to inform a qualitative, inductive study of the journalism charity using semi-structured interviews with a purposive sample of eight stakeholders from the journalism charity and four “elite” interviewees from the digital economy. This study makes a number of contributions to theory and practice in terms of understanding the digital economy’s business ethics and how non-profit organizations can assess clearly whether the funding support it is seeking from the digital economy is philanthropic or commercial. The conceptual model serves as a guide to hybrid, non-profit organizations on the factors to assess when seeking engagement with the digital economy. A framework is offered to help non-profits ensure good governance when accepting funds from the digital economy. The study reinforces the need for non-profits to have a clear identity and mission to obtain philanthropic funding. Finally, the study provides an understanding of how organizations from the digital economy assess their funding support through the benefits to their own “ecosystems” – which can be commercial, philanthropic or hybrid in nature.
    • The ethical challenge of Big Tech’s “disruptive philanthropy”

      Manning, Paul; Baker, Nigel Timothy; Stokes, Peter; The University of Chester, The Thomson Institute, De Montfort University (Taylor and Francis, 2020-08-31)
      This article provides a review of research into global philanthropy and the disruptive practices of new technology companies. In this article we detail how “Big Tech” has created a new marketization of philanthropy, based on its sectoral values of innovation, entrepreneurialism and focus on financial and performance metrics. Consequently, we argue for a new ontology of philanthropy that acknowledges marketization as its guiding principle. The study examines and compares different market-focused, philanthropic paradigms, which have evolved through the business values of Big Tech and examines their moral motivations. The topic is viewed through the lens of ‘hybrid organizations’; a model for non-profit entities and social businesses which, in turn, are seeking a market-oriented pathway of balancing the twin demands of managing mission and money. A conceptual framework is then provided to inform practitioners in non-profit organizations about the issues and risks of engaging with the new types of philanthropy, to which we collectively refer as ‘disruptive philanthropy’. The article concludes by recommending further research into the ethics of Big Tech to understand the true motivations behind its philanthropic practices at a time when the sector is under intense governmental and media scrutiny.