Friday, September 16, 2022

Patricia Illingworth's "Giving Now"

Patricia Illingworth is an author, philosopher, and lawyer who works on some of the most urgent social, ethical, and human rights problems that face people and their communities. She has been a Fellow at Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School and most recently, Senior Fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She is Professor of Philosophy and Business at Northeastern University.

Illingworth applied the Page 99 Test to her new book, Giving Now: Accelerating Human Rights for All, and reported the following:
Page 99 in Giving Now introduces Chapter 8, entitled, The Fierce Urgency of Now. This chapter explores philanthropy during COVID-19, a time when need was great, and philanthropy stepped up to meet it. That said, many very wealthy people did not do enough to help during this crisis. The Chapter explains how philanthropy changed during COVID-19 and what those changes tell us about philanthropy, donors and human rights. Page 99 begins the analysis under the subheading Same Storm, Different Boats, describing COVID-19 and how it impacted people differently. Although we were all affected by the pandemic, it was devastating for some communities, while the wealthy and healthy suffered minimally. Page 99 underscores that donors increased their giving during COVID-19 in response to the pandemic’s brutal assault on human rights, visible to all. Although people gave more during the COVID-19 pandemic, many donors did not give enough to meet their human rights responsibilities. Page 99 is an excellent overview of the human rights approach to philanthropy developed in Giving Now.

Applying a human rights analysis to the nonprofit sector helps to identify the ethical issues raised by giving, solve those issues and provides a mechanism for preventing human rights violations. I draw primarily on the United Nations Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights (GP). The GP were ratified in 2011 and have been applied to for-profit organizations. I make the case that under the GP individuals and nonprofits also have human rights responsibilities. How does this play out?

This analysis is developed using case studies. I consider Sackler philanthropy and whether nonprofits should accept donations from the Sackler family given the role that Purdue Pharma, (owned by the Sacklers), played in the opioid epidemic. I also look at whether MIT should accept donations from pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. Since the donors were responsible for human rights violations in both cases, I maintain that their donations should be refused. When nonprofits accept donations from donors who have violated human rights, they are complicit in those violations. There are other moral problems inherent in these cases, such as the risks associated with reputation laundering and moral licensing which I also discuss. I also look at MacKenzie Scott’s approach to philanthropy and highlight the ways in which it supports human rights.

The GP hold that enterprises should respect human rights and ensure that they are not implicated in the violation of human rights. They also state that organizations should practice human rights due diligence. This involves transparency, or put differently, knowing, and showing. When practiced, due diligence can prevent the violation of human rights, or at the very least ensure that nonprofits are not complicit in the violation of human rights. I offer a due diligence framework that can be used by donors, nonprofits, and fundraisers to ensure that they mitigate their adverse human rights impact.
Learn more about Giving Now at the Oxford University Press website and visit Patricia Illingworth's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Health of Newcomers: Immigration, Health Policy, and the Case for Global Solidarity by Patricia Illingworth and Wendy E. Parmet.

--Marshal Zeringue