Is Social Justice Philanthropy a tautology or an oxymoron?

After a break away over the Bank Holiday, I’ve been immersed in reading up on social justice philanthropy (SJP). There’s a lot of interest in this topic, but not a lot of agreement on exactly what it means. It’s too early for me to offer any definitive thoughts, but I have been struck by two polemic contributions to this debate:

Some argue that SJP is a contradiction in terms – philanthropy being (in their terms) a by-product of an unjust system or, as one critic defines it, “people getting credit for giving back what their ancestors should never have taken in the first place”.

Others suggest that philanthropy is, by definition, about social justice because  it redistributes resources from rich to poor and seeks to promote the public benefit.

Like most things, I suspect the truth lies somewhere in the middle, and I’m looking forward to continuing my education in SJP, and to working out how our research centre can help promote theory and practice in this important area.

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