Institutional philanthropy, whose self-appointed roles include providing risk capital for society, leading transformational change and addressing society’s greatest challenges, has not kept up and adjusted to the times. If we want philanthropy to stay relevant in today’s 21st century world let alone rise to the level of its soaring rhetoric, we must revolutionise our 19th century business model, operating precepts and conceptual frameworks to be fit for purpose. For owners and investors of significant stores of capital, the changes needed will involve a revolution of capital.
What will it take to change?
Becoming fit for purpose will require that we transcend our current practices and beloved assumptions. For example, the notion that non-profit organisations, using resources from government and philanthropy, can address today’s wicked problems is, on its face, absurd. The institutional and ideological frameworks that have driven social sector practices for years confine us to a ‘too little, too late’ world. Marginal fixes are doomed to fail. While grants can be powerful, they have never been adequate by themselves and are even less so today.