The biggest election year in history is unfolding at a time when rising wealth and income inequality are fueling polarization and undermining social cohesion in many countries.

Average income levels and overall economic performance seem to make little difference as widening gaps between the haves and have-nots are becoming a practically universal phenomenon, increasingly translating into sharply divergent visions of what constitutes economic and social progress. This makes governance difficult, at best.

If formal governance mechanisms are impaired by seemingly intractable political polarization, how can we address important challenges, like improving equality of opportunity, building sustainable economies and delivering critical public goods? One answer is philanthropy.