OPINION: Why I’m Done With the Foundation World

Thursday, April 23, 2015

I’m done. I’ve spent 10 years working in the charity sector and my conclusion is that the organisations that finance it are so bad at their jobs, that they make the rest of us bad at ours.

I’ve been working for too long with people trying to achieve great things for the world and watching them degrade themselves at the feet of foundations whose structures turn brilliant thinkers into fundraisers and who reduce a highly complex world into amateur box-ticking. I’m done.

It’s soul destroying, wasteful, embarrassing and I’ve been a part of it for too long. I’m part of the problem.

Imagine a world where service users, charities, foundations, researchers, academics, frontline workers, public sector experts, commissioners and regulators were aligned and working together effectively as partners. After 10 years I’ve realised how far we are from actually achieving this.

We need a new model for funding charities that is better than Victorian style philanthropy excused by reductionist, unbenchmarked and often corrupted ‘impact assessments’. I know it’s possible because there are some brilliant grant-makers out there – people who have transformed society with funding because they were brave, educated, understood the communities they wished to serve and were prepared to take responsibility and risks. Because they cared enough not to let great potential fail.

Truth to Power: The Ten Things Foundations Do That They Shouldn’t.

Source: Brookfield Group (link opens in a new window)

Impact Assessment
philanthropy, poverty alleviation