I'm really tired of philanthropists and the media writing and talking about what is sexy or trendy with philanthropy. Many philanthropists, nonprofits, and especially the media have lost sight of what is important in our sector that is, to solve social problems.
Philanthropists continue to have the same boring conversations like the one at the Tactical Philanthropy Forum with Bill Somerville and Paul Brest (sorry Sean but its true). I think Bill is trying to do great things with his funding but he isn't going to truly solve social problems because his main point is finding and funding passionate people.
Funding passionate people or organizations for that matter will not solve social problems. Dan Palotta in his book Uncharitable hit that one the head. In order to truly solve social problems we have to change the system of the nonpofit sector. Its controversial but its the TRUTH!!
In order to change the system, we need to come together philanthropists and nonprofits alike. The problem is nonprofits are too scared--who will be the first to question or challenge the funder--the hand that pays their bills? If philanthropists stopped talking and provided opportunities for these nonprofits (us little people) to talk, we could change the system together.
I recently conducted research at USD that confirmed this, in a focus group of nonprofit graduate students (all working professionals). They said they wanted to be able to question the system of the nonprofit sector and the way they do work. Anyone who has worked in a nonprofit understands this. If we change the system and the way we are funded our organizations will be more competitive, retain staff and truly solve social problems. It shouldn't be an either or and it certainly shouldn't be the philanthropists with the money decides how the sector should run.