Thursday, December 4, 2008

Next-Gen Philanthrocapitalists

"Some are even dropping the p-word itself. ' We don't call what we are doing philanthropy, we call it having an impact,' says Peter Kellner, 39, managing partner of Uhuru Capital Management."

Suzanne McGee, "Next-Gen Givers," Barron's, December 1, 2008

These younger givers are impressive in their generosity, talents, and focus. What strikes me further about these social investors and social entrepreneurs is that they are in the grand tradition of American volunteerism and charity that believes in individual action to solve discrete, identifiable problems -- books,medicine, tutors, scholarships, information, etc.

Few, if any, of the next-gen givers profiled in this article show an appetite for policy advocacy, community organizing, or broader social change. Scaling up simple, targeted solutions is a good thing but may ultimately contribute to a social process of triage and rescue, not poverty reduction or sustainable development.

It's not an either/or choice. We just need to recognize that the big numbers that derive from scaling small things do not necessarily accumulate into big changes.

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