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How Modern Philanthropists Are Changing Public Policy

How Modern Philanthropists Are Changing Public Policy


David Callahan, author, "The Givers"


Photo caption:

Photo credit: Knopf

The book cover for "The Givers" by David Callahan.

San Diego is filled with institutions that exist in large part because rich people decided to donate to them. Think Copley Symphony Hall, the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego or the Prebys Cardiovascular Institute at Scripps Health. KPBS itself has been supported by several of San Diego's major philanthropists, including Joan Kroc and Irwin and Joan Jacobs.

But author David Callahan argues there's a potential risk to philanthropic giving, which is becoming more widespread now that the richest Americans are richer than ever. In his new book, "The Givers: Wealth, Power, and Philanthropy in a New Gilded Age," Callahan writes that many of today's philanthropists don't simply want their name on a hospital or homeless shelter, but want to use their money to shape public discourse by founding think tanks, large-scale foundations or investing in litigation meant to change laws.

"The whole trend of more private giving to influence public life is deeply concerning," Callahan said. "In effect, we're seeing a shift of power away from elected representatives and toward unaccountable philanthropists."

Callahan joins KPBS Midday Edition on Wednesday with more on how current philanthropists are changing the nature of charity.

Author Event

Where: Warwick's, 7812 Girard Ave, La Jolla

When: Wednesday, May 17, 7:30 p.m.

Cost: Free


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