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For-Profit Philanthropy

Dana Brakman Reiser

Brooklyn Law School

November 4, 2008

Fordham Law Review, Spring 2009
Brooklyn Law School, Legal Studies Paper No. 124

This essay examines Google's adoption of the novel and unorthodox for-profit philanthropy model. Google created a division of its for-profit company that is tasked with pursuing philanthropic activities. Specifically, this division is responsible for addressing the global issues of climate change, poverty, and emerging diseases. Of course, companies have long blended philanthropic and business objectives. They make contributions, commit to corporate social responsibility, or even form as social enterprises. For-profit philanthropy, though, differs from these familiar techniques in both structure and scale. Likewise, for-profit philanthropy stands in stark contrast to the nonprofit, tax-exempt form of organization typically used by those pursuing exclusively philanthropic endeavors. This essay investigates the for-profit philanthropy model, drawing out these distinctions as well as the reasons why Google chose to adopt it. These reasons reveal a fascinating mismatch between Google's philanthropic vision and that of nonprofit law. Exploring this divergence exposes the fundamental policy choices underlying the law's structures for philanthropic activity, as well as the undertheorized boundary between nonprofits and for-profits.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 36

Keywords: nonprofit, philanthropy, corporate charitable contributions, corporate social responsibility, social enterprise

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Date posted: November 5, 2008 ; Last revised: October 19, 2009

Suggested Citation

Brakman Reiser, Dana, For-Profit Philanthropy (November 4, 2008). Fordham Law Review, Spring 2009; Brooklyn Law School, Legal Studies Paper No. 124. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1295419

Contact Information

Dana Brakman Reiser (Contact Author)
Brooklyn Law School ( email )
250 Joralemon Street, Rm. 814
Brooklyn, NY 11201
United States
718-780-0396 (Phone)
718-780-0376 (Fax)

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