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Senior Lecturer Greg Witkowski Quoted in MarketWatch: How the Spite Philanthropy Storyline in HBO’s Succession Plays Out in Real Life

M.S. Nonprofit Management Senior Lecturer Greg Witkowski was recently quoted in a MarketWatch article on how the “spite philanthropy” plotline in the popular HBO show Succession reflects a real-life trend. In a recent episode, the initially bumbling and naive “Cousin Greg” character is told by his grandfather that his inheritance will be given to Greenpeace as a consequence for having “aligned himself with ‘a monstrous endeavor’ and a ‘gang of crapulous shills’ by joining sides with the Roys’ conservative media empire.”  

After the episode aired, Greenpeace took to Twitter, encouraging others to “piss off one of your own relatives by making an early #GivingTuesday gift to @GreenpeaceUSA right now!” Greenpeace USA’s Chief Development Officer Tricia Hart confirmed that the social media posts after the episode did indeed increase traffic to their donation pages, adding, “we are happy to see Greenpeace’s continued relevance as the nemesis of corporate greed during our 50th anniversary.” 

Columbia’s Greg Witkowski coined the term “spite philanthropy” in an Op-Ed for The Chronicle of Philanthropy earlier this year. The phrase refers to donations made specifically to offend or dishonor another. In the article, Dr. Witkowski cites many recent examples of the trend, including a social media influencer’s campaign encouraging people to donate to Planned Parenthood in Rush Limbaugh’s name after the death of the controversial political personality. “People have recognized for a long time that people give for emotional reasons,” Dr. Witkowski tells MarketWatch. “This is a much  different emotion than we want to usually tie to philanthropic giving, but it’s there.” 

Read the full MarketWatch article, “Greenpeace wants donors to take a cue from ‘Succession’ and embrace ‘spite philanthropy.”