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What philanthropists need to ask themselves right now

Amid the protests that have unfolded in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, many philanthropists are asking the question: “Who can I give to?”  as they seek to stand in solidarity with the Black community in America. During a period in which many Americans are focused, rightly, on racial inequities in our society, philanthropists are […]

Black Lives Matter

George Floyd murdered. Ahmaud Arbery murdered. Breonna Taylor murdered. Christian Cooper threatened. Countless others. Named and unnamed, known and unknown. These are not acts that can be understood as anomalies or as the products of bad actors or poor judgment. These are predictable outcomes born of a system delivering that which it was designed to […]

Are We Doing Any Good?

Consider the spectrum of philanthropic giving you or others in your social circle made over the last five years: You may be thinking of gifts to alma maters. Or, you’re thinking of a GoFundMe campaign for someone you knew who had an accident, those soccer team fundraising drives, or an end-of-year large donation to a […]

Staying Focused While Taking the Long View

If you invest $10,000 in the stock market today, you might expect your investment to grow something like this: In 20 years, the ROI on your $10,000 investment is significant and positive. While there are important differences between investing in financial markets and promoting social change, the path to progress is similarly non-linear. Social change […]

To Drive Systemic Change, Find the Root Cause

Treat the cause, not the symptoms If your phone turns off and you plug it into a charger, most likely, it turns back on. If it doesn’t, you now have to consider other potential issues in order to get it to work again. As human beings, we use linear, event-focused, cause-and-effect thinking as our go-to […]

Putting the “Social” in Social Change

You may sometimes feel like you’re one of the few – if not the only – advocates for the issue you care about. You’ve shown all your friends (and random acquaintances too) the data about the disparities in public education. You’ve met with elected officials and made public comments at school board meetings. No one […]

An Ecosystem Approach to Social Change

Recently, we’ve seen a growing weariness among those working on longstanding efforts to transform public education. But we don’t think it’s because those pushing for better schools have lost faith in the potential of children. Rather, the exasperation felt is around the question of how to achieve transformative change when a deep-rooted status quo seems […]

What is Forward-Thinking Philanthropy?

We sometimes find it helpful to think about philanthropy as a tool for social change in terms similar to how Winston Churchill famously described democracy: “Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried”  There are (and always have been) valid critiques of philanthropy as a means […]