Turkish Foundations: From Vehicles of Philanthropy to Agents of Change?

Zeynep Meydanoglu, Emerging Leader, International Fellows Program ~ 2010




Over the centuries, foundations have gone from being the sole provider of key social services in the Ottoman Era, to catalysts and supporters of the Republic’s modernization process. Despite their ability to adapt, Turkish foundations have been hesitant when it comes to generating social change. At the same time, rising income inequality and demographic change necessitate Turkish foundations to become more involved with social causes. Zeynep Meydanoglu seeks to encourage the discussion of how Turkish foundations can contribute to achieving longer term systematic change and social justice in Turkey.


In the first section of the paper, Meydanoglu examines the theory and implementation of social justice philanthropy from an international perspective, looking at case studies in places like Brazil, Northern Ireland and New York. The second section brings in the Turkish context and assesses its potentials and limitations for adopting a social justice lens. The final section aims to act as a theory of change for Turkish foundations and Third Sector more generally by identifying suitable strategies and possible points of intervention.



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