Eating is an agricultural act - Wendell Berry

Monday, August 04, 2008

philanthrophy advice

sudhir venkatesh shot to fame with his famous chicago gangster research in the wildly famous freakanomics and his subsequent book 'gang leader for a day'

sudhir also writes in in the very avidly read freakonomics blog.

here is his series on "what to do with your $70 million?".
part 1, part 2 and part 3.
part 3 is the real thing!

some interesting parts:
1. classic traits of aspiring donors:

First, they confused charity with commerce: that is, they uncritically applied the language of outcome-oriented investment to efforts to change human behavior in social settings. Humans, alas, don’t operate neatly according to market logic, though incentives can shift behavior.

Second, donors seem reluctant to talk about their own self interest. Instead of admitting their personal desires, they speak of selfless charity. Of course, donors can do whatever they want with their money, but this attitude doesn’t help them grow.

2. here is a nice 'catch':
....whether they liked the results or not, they had to provide a second grant disbursement to the organizations (contingent on the fiscal responsibility of the recipient grantees). I felt this freed them up from the expectation of evaluating anything other than their own personal transformation. The three donors agreed on a “loss figure” of $500,000, meaning they would each give $1,000,000.
3. simple but powerful learning:

...they learned that poor families who have access to small amounts of cash — as little as $20 — can stave off problems that might otherwise spiral out of control. (Previously they dismissed the utility of using such small sums for change.) Of course, credit unions have long understood this — and one of the donors is now helping to fund organizations that replicate this strategy in New York.

They also learned that, in some cases, process is as important as outcome. For example, service providers who keep families together — despite dramatic improvements — are playing a valuable function in communities where things always fall apart. And even if a child’s grades don’t improve, sometimes staying in school is a huge mark of success for the family.

it is not over yet. we wait to see how this progresses.

hat tip: charityfocus

No comments: