The philanthropic relationship: A form of domination?

Philanthropic enterprises
The example of the American Friends of French cultural institutions
By Anne Monier

The philanthropic work of fundraising is characterized by an important relational dimension. The professionalization of the sector has led to the emergence of techniques to improve the effectiveness of fundraising. Among them is cultivation, which aims to establish a personal relationship with individual donors to engage them or to get them to give more. This article aims to analyze the philanthropic relationship between donor and recipient in the context of cultivation, to understand if this relationship is characterized by a form of domination. To do so, we will focus on a particular form of philanthropy, that of American Friends groups of French cultural institutions (American Friends of the Louvre, American Friends of Versailles and so on). The American Friends are American organizations that benefit from 501(c)(3) status, which allows American patrons to make tax exempt gifts to foreign institutions. This analysis is based on qualitative research carried out in France and the United States and based on observations, interviews, and analysis of documents and archives.


  • philanthropy
  • elites
  • transnational
  • culture
  • work
  • social capital
  • fundraising
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