Voting systems and philanthropy

Interesting article in the New Yorker about different voting systems. The way we elect presidents in the US, with “winner takes all” in a majority system, is not the only way to do things: there’s proportional representation, where parties get seats in accordance with their vote share, preference voting, where you rank candidates and can express more than one preference, etc. This is one of the central topics in political science, and the literature gets dense quickly. I thought there was a missed opportunity in the article to talk more about examples from other countries, and about the differences between presidential and legislative elections.

This seems like a good excuse to flesh out some of the potential topics for this blog based on my two questions, particularly the second one, “What would it mean to democratize philanthropy?” There are a lot of market-based metaphors floating around to describe how philanthropy does its work (I almost said, “does its business”). Part of the reason for my musings about influence and impact is to explore non-market-based metaphors for our work. The idea of voting and voting systems gives some room for this.

A few initial questions:

  • In what ways are grant decisions and voting related? Letters of inquiry, internal rating systems, discretionary grants, Board approval, consent agenda – what would it look like if we overlaid the structure of political elections on these?
  • How are fundraising and campaigning related? Are individual donors like Presidential voters, requiring broad majoritarian appeals, and institutional donors like legislative voters, requiring targeted narrowcasting based on the quirks of locality? (It was a Congressman who said “all politics are local,” after all.) What if campaigning for institutional grants had to occur in public like campaigning for votes?
  • Social media give people the opportunity to express preferences in a variety of ways – sharing, liking, rating. What are the implications of applying such systems to grant decision processes? How would a political scientist view the Chase Challenge?

Those sound worth exploring. How else are philanthropy and voting/electoral systems potentially related?

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5 Responses to “Voting systems and philanthropy”

  1. The Blog Briefly Known as "Democratizing Philanthropy?" » Blog Archive » Fundraising and campaigning (part 1) Says:

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  3. The Blog Briefly Known as "Democratizing Philanthropy?" » Blog Archive » Fundraising and campaigning (part 3) Says:

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