Philanthropy is not inherently good

This article in the Atlantic caught my eye today, which discusses David Callahan’s new book, The Givers: Money, Power, and Philanthropy in a New Gilded Age. It also taps into another discussion I’ve been enjoying about the harmful impact of disruptive philanthropy, defined as philanthropy that competes with government rather than collaborates with it, in order to provide services. “Disruptive philanthropy seeks to shape civic values in the image of funders’ interests and, in lieu of soliciting public input, seeks to influence or change public opinion and demand,” write Stanford sociologists Aaron Horvath and Walter W. Powell in an essay published in the book Philanthropy in Democratic Societies. This is the elite philanthropy of money as power and influence. It is a philanthropy based on transaction rather than transformation. So what does this have to do with the little guys? The yous Read more…

Creating New Models

The emergence of social investing and civic engagement as philanthropic tools provides individuals with new ways to get directly involved with their giving. This transition shifts the power from the elite donor (a few individuals interested in direct service aid to broad humanitarian goals by donating large sums of money) to the network donor (many individuals of all income levels, focused on using a systems approach and giving with others to personalized projects); and I would argue that we’re quickly moving past the network donor to the hive donor, which I’ll explore at a later date. In addition, traditional charities are no longer the sole experts at solving social problems; social entrepreneurs have emerged with system-changing ideas. Technology and our ability to connect with each other as a global community has created opportunities for on-the-ground, real time, tangible change with Read more…