Posted by & filed under Connections.

In my mind I’m connecting some recent conversations I’ve had (about funding, radical ideas, innovative approaches, movements, social entrepreneurs, and accelerators for social entrepreneurs) with an article from Inside Philanthropy – Is Too Much Funding Going to Social Entrepreneurs—And Too Little to Social Movements? by David Callahan

I’m editing out most of the content and just keeping the bits that will connect with those conversations – so I can show it to people who are concerned with these issues.

Key points from the article

Are social movements more effective at bringing about large-scale change than social entrepreneurs? And if they are, why are so many funders excited about the latter compared to the former? …..

…. most funders don’t invest in social activists and movement building. Instead, they tend to focus on solving specific problems—a mindset that has lately reached a new apogee with the fast rise of funding for social entrepreneurs. ….

.. it’s fair to say that the mainstream of U.S. philanthropy isn’t much interested in helping build social movements, despite the track record of these movements in orchestrating large-scale change. And, in recent years, philanthropy has become even more focused on solving discrete problems in a technocratic way. To be sure, this strategy also has a long track record of changing lives, but often to a much smaller degree, despite all the talk of “systemic change.” ….

So why is philanthropy so fixated with social entrepreneurs and so uninterested in social movements? ….. ideologically centrist and temperamentally conservative…. philanthropists aren’t so comfortable backing social movements … new philanthropists … often from business, may be too optimistic about the role that specific innovations can play in solving social and economic problems  … change in these arenas requires deeper shifts in norms and consciousness, the kinds of shifts that often only social movements can bring about. …many of the big liberal foundations that you’d imagine would back social movements often think about change in a technocratic way—as opposed to focusing on influencing underlying values….

Whatever the case, it seems pretty clear that funders need to strike a better balance between backing social entrepreneurs and backing social movements if they really want to “change the world.”

Just to be clear, this isn’t an either/or choice. We do need more social entrepreneurs, and ….  social entrepreneurs often can and do work in conjunction with social movements.

Ultimately, though, philanthropy needs to get a lot better at shaping the gut-level values and beliefs that so often drive human behavior.

For the full article see – – Is Too Much Funding Going to Social Entrepreneurs—And Too Little to Social Movements? by David Callahan