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The Problem with Charity and Philanthropy

Historically, the social good was financed by the philanthropy of industrialists and the pooled wages of their workers. So traditional philanthropy evolved to provide temporary comfort to the poor and ease the conscience of the rich. The only problem is, charity and aid models don't work.

Charity models are inherently designed to emphasize a group's perceived deficits, create a culture of dependency, reinforce paternalistic paradigms, and fail to create sustainable solutions. But we undervalue people when we define them by their perceived deficits.

Social innovators flip the script. They look for strengths, and build on that strength-based foundation. By doing so, you debunk old myths about the creativity, resilience, and moral agency of people who are poor, illiterate, disabled, addicted, imprisoned, or simply outside the age-range of productive years. They adopt a strength-based, people-centered approach.

The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but to reveal to him his own. -Benjamin Disraeli

We must shift from Assistance-Based Aid to Asset-Based Change. Social entrepreneurship leads the fundamental paradigm shift from ‘powerful nations’ model to a ‘people-centered’ model, because the only lasting change is built by those impacted.

The most effective innovators, trailblazers, and changemakers find renewal and inspiration by working with, and staying close to, people and communities they love, people who recharge their spirits and sense of mission, and people who share their sense of what is possible and help them make it so.


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