Giving Compass’ Take:
• In this story from SSIR, author David Callahan discusses the problems that come from philanthropy’s intent on taking risks in the pursuit of a breakthrough.
• How can a donor know when it is best to pursue systemic, long-term change versus when it is necessary to apply “band-aid” solutions?
• To learn about three reasons why philanthropy must adapt to the changing times, click here.
An appetite for risk may be philanthropy’s top competitive advantage—or at least it should be. Too often, though, funders play things safe instead, which is why it is encouraging to watch deep-pocketed newcomers embrace risk and see how this has reenergized some legacy foundations.
But a downside of the growing focus on risk and innovation is that it may be sending the wrong message about what counts as a meaningful result of large-scale philanthropy. The high value placed on novel and ambitious programs may be slowing down the pace at which today’s new mega-givers are disposing of their fortunes, and it may be depriving some of the most worthy—but often persistent and intractable—causes of urgently needed support.
A dominant message within elite philanthropy right now is that smart funders should not waste their money on Band-Aid solutions that are applied downstream. Instead, they must search for opportunities upstream to make breakthroughs in attacking systemic problems. These days, to pursue significant influence as a major-league philanthropist—and win accolades—you are supposed to be on a ceaseless quest for innovative and scalable solutions to society’s toughest challenges.
Read the full article about innovation focused philanthropy by David Callahan at Stanford Social Innovation Review
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