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The Ideological Work of Philanthropic Myths: A Study of Post-pandemic Disbursement Quota Reforms in Canada

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posted on 2024-03-13, 21:03 authored by Fahad AhmadFahad Ahmad, Adam Saifer

This research examines the role that myths play in sustaining the institutional position of philanthropy in a context of sector reinvention during the COVID-19 recovery. Specifically, we study discourse around the post-pandemic philanthropic sector reforms to the Disbursement Quota (DQ) in Canada. The DQ is the minimum asset payout rate that philanthropic foundations in Canada must maintain to enjoy charitable status and associated tax benefits. We examine submissions to government, media articles, and public statements by philanthropic sector advocates to analyze the ideological work of DQ-related discourses in creating and entrenching philanthropic myths. Our findings coalesce around three philanthropic myths: (1) the Modernization Myth (2) the Goodness Myth; and (3) the Equity Myth. We argue that these philanthropic myths function to maintain the institutional position of philanthropy in this moment of sector reinvention by obscuring the sector’s colonial-capitalist histories and institutional contradictions.

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