By Stephen Pittam
Courtesy of www.alliancemagazine.org
Six months after I had started working for the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust (JRCT) a close friend said to me, ‘you have changed – you expect people to listen to you.’ It was a good reminder of the best piece of advice I received on getting the job. Eric Adams of the Barrow Cadbury Trust told me, ‘keep your feet on the ground and you will be alright.’
It is difficult to keep your feet on the ground when working in a foundation because you are inevitably placed in a position of power. When meeting grant applicants I was always conscious that for them the meeting could mean someone’s job was at stake. With money comes power. And, as the saying goes, power corrupts. As time went on, I grew more accustomed to living with that power but I also grew increasingly uncomfortable about some of the manifestations of the power relationships that philanthropy engenders. There are many sides to this topic. It is great to be able to explore some of them, both positive and negative, in this issue of Alliance.
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