Always Playing Catch Up? Philanthropy and Social Movements
The other day, I explored why so many funders love to back social entrepreneurs even though history shows that big changes are usually brought about by social movements—which today’s funders are decidedly less interested in backing. I offered up several possible reasons for this imbalanced funding picture, but here’s one I didn’t explore: Maybe there’s just not much that philanthropy can do to ignite social movements and so the smart money doesn’t even bother trying.
There’s something to this. After all, social movements tend to emerge in unpredictable ways, spearheaded by citizen activists—many of whom weren’t previously involved in organizing. These movements are often so powerful precisely because they aren’t led by the usual suspects who work in nonprofits with philanthropic backing.