Does Philanthropy Need Disrupting?

There is a growing sense that every stable institution could use disrupting — best described by the Bay Area mantra of “move fast and break things.” Certainly the 100+ year old structures of the large foundation might benefit from perturbations. That said, have foundations really been that stodgy? In the 25 years I have been with JSMF we have constantly changed. This foundation looks, acts, funds, quite differently (in some ways) than it did in the 1990s. What has remained – and I am not convinced needs “breaking” – is JSMF’s commitment to supporting research and scholarship that adds to knowledge and supporting the responsible application of knowledge to real and important problems.
Moving fast might not be the best way to avoid unintended consequences. Breaking things might not be the best approach for deep-rooted problems.
I admire the boldness of the disruption thinking but not the hubris. Some changes might be better done slowly. Sometimes it is better than fix rather than break.
That said, it is good to be shaken up every now and then.

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