Friday, June 19, 2009

Charity is dead

Julia Moulden put up an interesting post on The Huffington Post a few weeks ago.

Moulden's new book, We Are The New Radicals: A Manifesto for Reinventing Yourself and Saving the World (McGraw-Hill, New York (2008)., keeps her busy on the speaker's circuit these days.

Here's a taste of her work:

The notion that "charity is dead" has been brewing for some time. On Earth Day (April 22), I remembered something an uber-green friend once said when we were talking about garbage, "There is no 'away'." That is, when we say of things we no longer want, "Oh, I'll just throw it away," we aren't really thinking about what happens to the stuff. It's now abundantly clear that that attitude created a huge problem - from overflowing landfills to the floating plastic island in the south Pacific.

Here's another piece of the puzzle that I'm struggling to put into place. In recent weeks, I've worked with and interviewed some remarkable people who have chosen careers in the non-profit sector. And from each of them I heard - perhaps for the first time, really heard - how they spend much of their time. Not, as we might imagine, helping people in need. Instead, they constantly do a desperate dance designed to attract the attention of people like you and me. So that they can raise awareness of their work. And the money they need to keep going.

Something is wrong with this picture.

Read the entire post here.



1 comment:

Jeremy Gregg said...

A philanthropist's actions might yield societal benefit, but they are actually the altruistic outcome of an inherently selfish desire for significance. The most sustainable partnership between a donor and a charitable organization is one in which both tie their fates to the same vision of the world.

Philanthropists' actions appear selfless on the surface, but even the pursuit of selflessness is itself a response to a personal desire for a different life. This is not unique to the philanthropist: we are all driven these feelings. We must acknowledge that the presence of wealth in a person's life does not remove the humanity from their soul: indeed, wealth merely provides a larger stage on which a person can demonstrate their values.

Charity is not dead, nor even reborn: it has simply undergone a rebranding effort. At the end of the day, if we begin to align our daily lives around the idea that we can do well by doing good, we can kill the need for charity.

And what better outcome could there be for our world than having the ideals of "taking care of your world" and "loving your neighbor" become accepted as the best practices of business rather than consigned to charity/"soft business"?