Whether you are an individual giving $50 to a small charity or a philanthropist giving $5 million to a large non-profit, how you look at this transfer of funds says a lot.
Are you giving it away or buying impact?
In the former, the agency is with the donor. Their giving assumes altruism or largesse. They have the power, control and responsibility.
In the latter, the agency is shared. The buying assumes an exchange of value. Both parties have power, control and responsibility.
It is not only fair to assume that the exchange of money in the name of good should produce more good but it is also healthier for both parties involved and society as a whole.
I first heard about this framing of giving as “buying impact” at a mentoring summit held by the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Carolina.
At first blush, the idea of buying vs. giving may seem too cold and capitalistic, but in hearing Charlie Elberson of the Reemprise Fund describe it – it was just the opposite.
He talked about a relationship between two people or two organizations where both brought something of value to the table. It was based on mutual trust, shared values and common cause. Low on formal processes, it was high on informal conversation and collaboration. Rather than transactional, it was relational.
How we see our relationships drives how we treat them. After all, when we see people as our equal, we are more likely to treat them as one.
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