Generosity is not a substitute for justice

Open Book

By Kathy Swayze

January 29, 2020

If you are in the fundraising profession, you might find Anand Giridharadas’ book, Winners Take All: the Elite Charade of Changing the World, a bit challenging. I did. He argues that we’re failing to address critically important social issues because of a new class of elite innovators who have all the money and think they also have all the answers. He doesn’t hold back – going after Andrew Carnegie, the Clinton Global Initiative, DAVOS, B Corporations, global philanthropists, social venture investors, and many other very well-meaning people and institutions.

It’s too complex a book to adequately summarize in a short article, but here are a few tidbits that I hope will inspire you to run right out (to a locally owned, independent bookstore) and buy yourself a copy. It will change the way you see the world.

Anand discusses the new wave of innovative social ventures whose leaders boast about making big profits while helping others.  He notes, “The age of the win-win philosophy is also the age of crippling and growing inequality. . .  What if suffering can’t just be innovated away? What if the elites really need to just part with more of their money in order for every American to have a decent standard of life?”

The author does give a shout out to a few people who are sounding the alarm on these issues, including Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation. Walker’s book, A New Gospel of Wealth, breaks some important taboos among philanthropic circles. Anand notes, “You can ask the rich to do more good, but never ever tell them to do less harm. Inspire them to give back, but never ever tell them to take less. Inspire them to join the solution, but never ever accuse them of being part of the problem.”

Mario Marino, founder of Venture Philanthropy Partners, described the book as a “gut punch” that “will generate many uncomfortable, unquestionably important conversations in our sector and beyond.” I couldn’t agree more.

-By Kathy Swayze


Photo credit: lorenzhome Used under a Creative Commons (CC-BY-2.0) license

You May Also Like…

Asking is a Form of Stewardship

Asking is a Form of Stewardship

Back in October, fundraisers around the world gathered virtually for the two-day Nonprofit Storytelling Conference. As...


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *