In 2015, Mark Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan, both in their early 30’s, pledged to give away 99 percent of their estimated $45.5 billion fortune over their lifetimes. Clearly, there’s much to be said for the traditional way of donating. Huge donations from rich philanthropists can change the landscape of a crisis, by quickly providing supplies and organizing events for immediate disaster relief. And, our individual donations collectively support many people in underdeveloped nations.
However, research increasingly shows that the model of traditional giving can in fact cause adverse effects to the causes it aims to support. Simply providing services or aid, without local context and community participation, can actually cause further hardship and increase inequality. New approaches strive to strengthen communities in a manner that is sustainable—even after aid transfers end.
A recent article by Quartz Africa, "How foreign aid helped and hurt one of the world’s poorest countries," explains how foreign aid caused a false sense of security in Liberia, a country in which civil war killed a quarter of a million people:
“International assistance would likely be better equipped to succeed in the long run if it emphasized building the skills of local people to make them better at running their own country and building their own economy…than depending on outsiders to get things done.”
Without proper structure, farming cooperatives in Liberia run as boot-strap enterprises, with little access to the financial and technical support that would help them to grow. (Photo: Gun Eriksson Skoog)
Although donations will always remain vital, large-scale changes are urgently needed to improve the lives of much of humanity for the long term. And, the opportunities and risks of these changes and how they take place is best determined by those most affected, who often lack the power and influence to shape it. For this reason, businesses are increasingly cutting back on philanthropic giving and, instead, they're putting money and time into social change programs.
“Corporations have been supporting worthy causes for more than 100 years but have finally acknowledged that the results aren't good enough and the ways in which they support social issues are changing quickly.” ~The Guardian
Investing in social enterprise and providing the education and tools that fragile communities around the world require to be self-sufficient and sustainable is the way of the future. How this can be accomplished, is exemplified by Einstein Rising, a social business accelerator that develops African entrepreneurs who have innovative solutions to societal challenges.
Indigenous peoples in Canada experience the highest levels of poverty: A shocking 1 in 4 Indigenous peoples (Aboriginal, Métis and Inuit) or 25%, are living in poverty and 4 in 10 or 40% of Canada's Indigenous children live in poverty. ~ https://www.povertyinstitute.ca/poverty-canada