Philanthropy Management: Governments With Good Intentions Suffer From Philanthropic "Attention Deficit"
10/09/12 - 11:11 AM EDT
Oct. 9, 2012
/PRNewswire/ -- In an interview with
, "Philanthrocapitalism" co-author
laments that fundamental constraints keep governments from acting as a catalyst for philanthropic innovation.
According to Green, a major obstacle that hampers popularly-elected governments is what he terms philanthropic "attention deficit." Due to frequent elections, politicians see little upside to supporting philanthropic initiatives that might upset even a modest segment of the electorate. Furthermore, the results of such initiatives may be evident only after the next election. As a result, there is little staying power or follow-through from one election cycle to the next.
Green noted that politicians also are prone to react to headlines.
commented, "While a good decision may be helpful to a political career, getting something wrong is often disproportionately punished." Consequently, there is little appetite for long-term thinking or innovation.
According to Green, the response to malaria from governments versus the private sector is illustrative. Unlike AIDS, malaria doesn't appear often in headlines, so the deadly illness never became a cause celebre for European or US politicians. Enter the Gates Foundation, which brought together governments and private philanthropies in an effort to eradicate the disease. By 2010, said Green, "malaria deaths had dropped 25% since 2000." The lesson for philanthropists, he told Schwartz, is the "need to identify a problem that can be solved and then create a coalition of the willing."
The complete interview is available in the Autumn print edition. An extract, where Green addresses the popularity of impact investing, can be found at the recently-launched
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