Friday, October 24, 2008

Better philanthropy

There are not a lot of people who spend their time wondering what a better philanthropic system/market/ecosystem could look like. I am one of those few. Colleagues of mine from Blueprint recently reminded me that I have already outlined a vision of better (in my 2004 book, Creating Philanthropic Capital Markets: The Deliberate Evolution). The elements I identified then were:
· Aggregated philanthropic dollars
· Diversity of people, resources, ideas and vehicles
· Different power dynamics between grantor/grantee
· Long-term, committed grantmaking for change
· Integrated resources across sectors
· Timed well relative to stage of problem and other funding.

I still agree with those, and realized that since 2004 I'd developed some other lists as well. ... These seven building blocks of open philanthropy are:
  • 1. Facilitate adaptation, don’t hinder it
  • 2. Design for interoperability, local specificity will follow
  • 3. Build for the poorest
  • 4. Assume upward adaptability
  • 5. Creativity and control will happen locally
  • 6. Diversity is essential
  • 7. Complex problems require hybrid solutions
And some 2007 thoughts on aligned investing included these items:
  • Data, research, analysis, strategy, and measurement tools help people put their resources where their personal interests and passions are.
  • the ... philanthropic industry personal, fragmented, and anonymous. It is also strategic, brand-oriented, and – in the aggregate – enormous. Its most generous participants – as measured by percent of net worth given – tend to be the poor, not the rich.
  • While the range of issues they can support is almost limitless; the number of tools that philanthropists have at their disposal is rather small. They have really 7 things to bring to the table: money, knowledge, time, expertise, connections, patience, and independence.
  • I do equate strategy, knowledge, and alignment with effectiveness.
I need a cohesive statement of where the philanthropic industry is now, where it is going, and where are its points of influence. I'll start with these lists above - please feel free to add, subtract, argue with or point me to other sources.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great post Lucy!

I'm really interested if you've seen really interesting examples of projects or platforms that are taking on different elements of what you've identified as challenges or opportunities?

I wrote a post on just now focused on which has a really interesting approach to aggregating individual impact, but would love to hear any others you've come across