Philanthropy Has A Critical Role In Peace & Security

Apr 28, 2017

Philanthropy is more than good business. When people and businesses engage in philanthropy, it helps them build relationships, build their brand, and build employee engagement. But there is more. Philanthropy is essential to our collective future.




Philanthropy has a critical role to play in improving cybersecurity worldwide. As new technologies affect every aspect of our lives, the applicable laws, norms and policies—as well as the decision-makers that shape them—are struggling to keep up. High-profile breaches—at Sony Pictures, the Office of Personnel Management, and the Democratic National Committee, among many others—underscore the magnitude of the risks we face and the need for informed cybersecurity policies.

Yet despite its critical importance, funding to develop long-term cybersecurity policy for the benefit of the public is practically non-existent. The funding gap is, moreover, structural. Government and industry are directing significant resources to cybersecurity, but their efforts are and will remain focused on countering immediate threats and triaging new breaches. Unlike government or industry, philanthropy can be a neutral player not motivated by profit, politics, or self-interest.

There is critical work to be done for the safety of the public—work that government cannot and the private sector will not fund. What’s needed is flexible support from institutions that have the latitude to take a long-term, strategic approach—the kind of funding, in other words, that philanthropy is uniquely positioned to provide.


This talk was given at the 2017 ENIGMA Conference in San Francisco, CA, Eli Sugarman explains why the Cyber Initiative, a five-year $65 million grant-making effort, helps build a more robust cyber field and improve cybersecurity policy-making worldwide. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation that manages the Cyber Initiative reaches beyond the business objectives of the moment, to help ensure we have a healthy social environment in the future. This addresses sustainable development for our larger humanity by ensuring our social ecosphere is healthy enough to support social (and economic) growth and development in the future.

Eli Sugarman was a consultant and strategist to private-sector and nonprofit leaders internationally, served as a Foreign Affairs Officer at the U.S. Department of State, and graduated from Middlebury College. Sugarman also holds a JD from Stanford University Law School.

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