Kristin Goss, Duke University

Professor of Public Policy and Political Science, Sanford School of Public Policy

"Donors for Democracy? Elite Philanthropy in an Illiberal Age"

In America’s “new gilded age,” billionaires and the vast philanthropic enterprises that they or their stewards oversee are under increasing fire for their heavy-handed and unaccountable intrusion into public affairs. The system that creates elite donors, and gives them outsized influence, has been branded immoral – an affront to the ideals of an inclusive, egalitarian America. This project asks a question that may seem at once naïve and heretical: Is there a redemptive role for America’s elite? Using the 2016 presidential election as a “natural experiment,” Goss analyzes a trove of quantitative and qualitative data to offer a surprising answer: Many of America’s wealthiest individuals and foundations indeed did use their money and other civic resources to rally around the cause of democracy protection. However, their democracy dollars constituted a tiny share of American philanthropy and were at least partially offset by elite giving to illiberal causes.

When: Thursday, March 28, 2024, 12:00-1:30pm

Where: All seminars will take place in the SNF Agora Conference Room, 3100 Wyman Park Drive, Suite N325, Homewood Campus or can be accessed on Zoom.

Zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/92121743165