Megan Francis Photo

Megan Francis

Visiting Associate Professor of Public Policy


We are at a zenith of philanthropic giving. Foundation assets have grown to well over $800 billion today. As a result, there has been an explosion in private charitable foundations and innovative donor initiatives. For the most part, philanthropy is celebrated. Individuals give away their wealth to worthy causes and help to steward significant social change. But this grandiose narrative belies a much more complicated story—especially as it pertains to the funding of progressive and conservative social movements. What happens when the interests of funders and grantees clash? This course will examine the history and future of philanthropy’s relationship with social movements. Some questions this course will take up include: What is philanthropy’s responsibility to supporting radical social movements? What are useful strategies for funders to confront their privilege in grantmaking? What does movement co-optation look like? How can grantees guard against the deleterious influence of well-meaning funders? To what extent can philanthropic investments remedy entrenched structural inequality? And what is the impact of funders on democratic governance?