What Fuels Your Philanthropassion?
How Money Loses its Smell

Social Change without Budgets or Permission

The wealthy through foundations and nonprofits manage social change via inputs, outputs, outcomes and petty rules and management hierarchies that denature a potentially revolutionary social movement of the disenfranchised into a well managed and non-threatening project to assist the disadvantaged upon their release from the State Pen.  Turning the world upside down becomes remediation, reeducation, medication, and incarceration followed by minimum wage labor in a double bottom line bakery of artisanal breads for the ruling class.

Since the disenfranchised are low on funds, what might they/we circulate into the system that would produce long lasting results; what currency might they/we "invest" other than money to upset the status quo? Art, music, dance, folk poetry. Cheap wine, good conversation, civic friendship, spiritual affirmation, courage, feet in the street, leadership by example, artful foolishness, and self-sacrifice for the good of a group. If philanthropy, as Payton and Moody write, is the expression of a moral tradition, what is social organizing?

Que Pasa? Could it be that philanthropy is (increasingly in the real world) the expression of a managerial tradition, of a capitalist, and technocratic, rather than moral tradition? I could give you 1,000 links to 100 philanthropy or giving blogs that would make this obvious to the point of tedium and despair. All technocrats, all managerial wannabees. Hot for their MBA, talking among themselves about how to be better social investors, more venturesome, more businesslike, more capable as a manager, more accountable to capital, and so gain an upward career path, with the full approval of Board, investors, wealthy donors.

So, perhaps, then, in the real world,  it is social organizing whose capital is moral, spiritual, artistic, democratic? And the purpose of philathropy is, often, to dispossess, displace, co-opt, micro-manage, and reroute that indigenous social capital, so that substantive social change does not happen, and is in fact suppressed?

These are partial and polemical points. But read the giving blogs in my sidebar until you bore yourself to numbness. Which aspire to business as their model of a better world and which to social change for a more open, just and morally and aesthetically vibrant society? Which are steeped in moral and literary and philosophical traditions, that animate society from the bottom up? And which aspire to being better business people and better "investors"? You could say that philanthropy is ever more effective and efficient in investing its human, social, and financial capital, while teetering on the brink of moral ruin.  These business minded philanthocrats don't even miss what they have lost. They feel no pain. They were lobotomized in biz school and highly recommend it to the poor.

Of course there are exceptions. My boss, and generous patron, she who rules us all, comes to mind. She is doing one heck of a job from New Orleans to the Green Zones in Iraq to the gentrification of the ghetto, to the outsourcing of violence to paramilitaries, to bankrupting the country.  "I am touched, deeply touched, Phil," Candidia said to me recently in the Hospitality Suite at our Corporate Retreat in the Catskills, "by all you do at Gifthub for Wealth Bond*age.  You truly make Wealth Bond*age a better place for all Americans! You provide me with an excellent return on my investment, Sweetie. Try the Rocky Mountain Osters. If you are not going to eat them, may I have yours? Mmmmm. "