Sharpening Your Edges
Understand your philanthropic goals in a shifting world
Over the course of this series, we’ve heard from a range of different philanthropic leaders about where the field is today, and where it might be headed over the coming decade. The authors have highlighted the sense that many traditional systems—from national and global governance to our overarching economic paradigms—feel as if they are now being challenged. And while the status quo is in disequilibrium, there is an opportunity for philanthropy to be more than just another institution under threat; it can be a dynamic part of the solution.
After all, as the only truly flexible capital dedicated to social good, philanthropy is uniquely positioned to respond to these types of challenges. Businesses, governments, and nonprofits alike all have to respond urgently to shorter-term pressures. Funders don’t face these kinds of market, political and fundraising pressures in the same way. Although this insulation can lead to a lack of accountability at times for philanthropy, it also means that funders are particularly well situated to be thoughtful about their financial and social capital, to take risks, to respond to urgent needs when needed, and, at times, to take the long view on creating change.
Yet for any individual funder, the wide range of possibilities can feel both exciting and daunting, especially against a backdrop of turbulence, uncertainty and dynamism in the world around them.
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