Here comes the Wall Street

I haven’t gotten to the blog coverage of this week’s Council on Foundations conference on Philanthropy411 yet, but the article from today’s Wall Street Journal (or as my inlaws call it, “the Wall Street”) sounds what is sure to be a discordant note. It’s a perfect example of the misperceptions and mischaracterizations that are only going to multiply as philanthropy continues to elevate its public profile. If only the reporter realized that the “brave new age” of strategic philanthropy has been in the making for years if not decades, and that the voices represented on the panels he cites are very much the minority within the field, as grassroots organizations can attest. But of course, in this artificially polarized political climate, such nuance is purposely ignored.

But I can’t help but think that our field isn’t ready for the scrutiny that’s coming. A lot of our assumptions about what makes social change are unexamined, and the reality of unintended consequences is one that we would do well to take heed of. As much as Bill Schambra’s parroting of standard conservative think-tank bromides irks me, there are some important insights that he carries forward and applies in a way that doesn’t have to be counterproductive. (And I gather he’s a perfectly nice guy.) A subject for a future post…

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