Why Does This Sector Matter? Redux
Read Michael Edwards’s book Small Change: Why Business Won’t Save the World.18 It’s his response (critical, fortunately) to the philanthrocapitalism movement. It’s his challenge (come on, people, let’s wake up) to society. It’s an invitation (a much-needed battle cry) to you and me to fight.
For a society so enamored of capitalism, the United States is particularly vulnerable to the fascination of social entrepreneurship and philanthrocapitalism. I must ask my international colleagues if they are so easily seduced. I hope that they aren’t. And I’m sad that the United States is.
Like me, Edwards wants to provoke conversations so there’s public discourse. And through public discourse, we can hear each other, learn from each, and ensure a stronger future for philanthropy and its results.
In sum, philanthrocapitalism claims that the “traditional ways of solving social problems do not work, so business thinking and market forces should be added to the mix.”19 Or, in other words, “business thinking and market methods will save the world.”20 (And make a lot of money for a limited number of people, too!)
Now, that’s where I get stuck, and so does Edwards: the excessive admiration for business thinking and market methods. Let’s see. … Would that be General Motors’ almost-bankruptcy and the 2010 BP Gulf oil spill?
I guess all those philanthropic responses to natural disasters, civil rights, poverty, education, the arts—from NGOs and millions of people—don’t ...