Philanthrocapitalists and the Humanitarian Agenda: Motivations, Metrics, and Media Power

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Philanthrocapitalism has been conceptualized as a new way of doing philanthropy, a strategy that takes businessthinking from the for-profit capitalist world and applies it to social projects and programs, spurring innovation and scaling-up solutions to global challenges along the way. This chapter explores the intersections between philanthrocapitalism and media, using the work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other major powerplayers in the humanitarian world as examples. The analysis describes how philanthrocapitalists have leveraged communication technology and media storytelling to amplify their global influence well beyond the force of their monetary donations alone. From the use of celebrity partnerships to the funding of specific filmmaking and journalistic endeavors, philanthrocapitalists have worked hard to set the media and policy agendas in a way that matches their social concerns and aligns with their metrics-oriented and technologicallysavvy styles. While dominant media narratives surrounding philanthrocapitalists have generally been laudatory, some scholars and activists have argued that the approach undermines democracy and prevents the development of more systemic social change strategies. Ultimately, given the increasing power of philanthrocapitalists in the humanitarian landscape, their philosophies and practices deserve a higher level of interrogation than has thus far occurred in media and the public sphere.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRoutledge Companion to Media and Humanitarian Action
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781134969173
ISBN (Print)9781315538129
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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