Rich young techies look at money - and philanthropy - in different ways

kickstarter.jpgForget about the traditional old-fart patronage of the arts - the new focus is on philanthropy that generates some sort of tangible return. Kickstarter illustrates this attitude among folks in the 20s and 30s who have become very well off very quickly, writes Ellen Cushing in the East Bay Express. The fundraising site rewards those who can best peddle their work (no matter how slight it might be). As Cushing puts it, "Don't donate, invest." The piece focuses on the Bay Area, but it clearly has relevance in Southern California as well. Here's more:

"A lot of those philanthropic dollars are now going to programs with measurable outcomes," [said Susan Medak, managing director of Berkeley Repertory]. "This shift toward a more transactional relationship in philanthropy, where you give something and expect to get something concrete back, has continued to escalate. The entrepreneurial infatuation we have now -- and I don't mean that in a loaded way -- comes with a notion that the things we're investing in should have a potential to [make] returns. It's antithetical to the kind of philanthropy that has built institutions in this country." Medak didn't mention the logical, eventual corollary to this -- that an end to institution-building philanthropy can also mean an end to the institutions themselves -- but it doesn't feel entirely far off.


According to [Amory Sharpe, senior director of development and capital campaigns at San Francisco's American Conservatory Theater], the arts community is now looking at courting a generation of "very generous people in their thirties and forties who are giving in a different way than their parents might have. Their giving is more results-oriented. They want a deeper understanding of how their philanthropic dollars are going to be used." Sharpe didn't specifically mention Kickstarter, but the company -- and its reach -- runs just below the surface of nearly every conversation about the Bay Area arts economy these days. The self-described "world's largest funding platform for creative projects" has, in its three-year existence, raised more than half a billion dollars for more than 90,000 projects and is getting more popular by the day; at this point, it metes out roughly twice as much money as the National Endowment for the Arts.

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
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