Philanthropy – it’s all the rage

Recently I have noticed that the glitterati, or those famous for being famous, are tacking on an additional title to “celebrity”  – philanthropist.    One can visualize the grave-spinning of Rockefeller and Carnegie, two individuals whose writings have contributed much to the 100 year old philosophy of strategic philanthropy.    I imagine that in some circles going to charity balls and launching twitter campaigns for the trendy cause of the moment counts as philanthropy.   But in reality, as anyone who has worked or volunteered in philanthropic giving – doing it well (read thoughtfully and impactfully) is not easy.    Too often, our intuitions of what is likely to be effective against tough societal problems are, well, just plain wrong.    Unintended consequences abound.   Short term attention can often compound rather than alleviate misery.   Mismatching problems and resources can result in the double whammy of barely moving the needle on intractable (or misguided) issues while diverting resources from the tractable ones.     I have no doubt that glib-anthropy intends to do good.  But we all know the cliche about what road is paved by good intentions.  Time to do better.

Thanks to a reader for directing me to a longer and more authoratative blog on this topic. It can be found here:

7 worst international aid ideas”