The Power of Philanthropy

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As we continue the struggle to articulate our perfect vision for the "Inspired Economy" and our quest to feature inspiring people, companies, and ideas blurring the lines between business, society, and the environment, Colin, came across an article in Fortune, entitled the "The Power of Philanthropy", that touched on much of what we are trying to express.  Our summary of this article will not do it justice, but we have provided a few excerpts from the author’s discussions with former President Bill Clinton on his work with the William J. Clinton Foundation:

"I am trying to do this in a way that will inspire other people," he says. "I hope the way we do things will become more the norm." Like the Gates Foundation and Robin Hood, the Clinton Foundation is part of a new turn in philanthropy, in which the lines between not-for-profits, politics, and business tend to blur. In this hardheaded philanthropic world, outcomes matter more than intentions, influence isn’t measured in dollars alone, and you hear buzzwords like "scalability," "sustainability," and "measurability" all the time. As Clinton says, "It’s nice to be goodhearted, but in the end that’s nothing more than self-indulgence."

Flying through African skies after a long day in Malawi, Clinton went on another extended monologue about his motivations. "Always in my life, I’ve had a consuming interest in people, politics, and policy. I’m out of politics now except for whatever use I am to Hillary. But I’m not out of people and policy. My primary motivation is that I love this stuff." For the people in Malawi, he said, there was but one choice: to work to live. "That’s the way 99% of people in human history have lived. If you’re in that narrow class who can live to work, you are privileged not just now, but in any single moment that ever existed." He added, "If you can do something that makes a difference, you have a moral obligation. But it’s not a burden, it’s a joy. I think those are my motives," he concluded. "But who can really know?"

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