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'Giving' Reflects on Philanthropy

TUNED IN

July 12, 2001|BY STEVEN LINAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Brother, can you spare a million?

Ben Wattenberg, moderator of the PBS series "Think Tank," will host "The Giving Boom" (10 p.m. KCET, KVCR), a one-hour special exploring the impact of increased donations by the country's most well-heeled philanthropists.

"This documentary," says Wattenberg, "demonstrates not only the sheer amount of money that will be given away in the near future, but also the change in the way people manage their philanthropic giving and its effectiveness."

The program includes biographies of moneymakers Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller and considers whether their "gilded age" might hold any lessons for our own.

It also examines how philanthropy can shape the social and political agenda and how individuals and foundations are taking a more active role in where and how their money is spent.

For example, with assets valued at $21.8 billion, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has already given away more money than Carnegie and Rockefeller combined.

"Giving" studies the Gates Foundation's approach, asking what happens when a foundation becomes large enough to outspend the federal government's entire global health budget.

In another segment, Wattenberg talks with the founders of Social Venture Partners, a foundation that funds long-term community programs in Seattle.

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