Michelle Sicignano, LMSW

Michelle Sicignano, LMSW

Social Justice Solutions | Staff Writer
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Social Change Philanthropy

An interesting article in Non-Profit Quarterly discussed an idea termed Social Change Philanthropy, described by the author as a processed dedicated to “changing the systems (public policy, societal mores, institutional biases) that support social injustice.  The idea is that if we gave more money to social change philanthropy, we could produce social justice and we wouldn’t need so much charity to redress social ills.”


She talks about Tracy Gary and Melissa Kohner’s explanation of traditional philanthropy as they offer in Inspired Philanthropy: Creating a Giving Plan as being based on responding to, treating and managing the consequences of life in a society with a capital-based economy.”

Social change philanthropy, on the other hand, takes things a step further as it “analyzes and responds more to cause than effect…. Progressive philanthropy strives to fund work that is proactive rather than reactive. Progressive philanthropy’s investment lies in supporting and facilitating change, challenging the assumptions that economic and social inequities are somehow unavoidable as the price of progress or prosperity.”

This idea appeals to me, because we should all know by know that you cannot truly solve social problems by just dumping more money into them. The solutions must be systemic.

The metaphor she refers to, “give a person a fish or teach her to fish, “effectively makes the point that there must be a place to fish from. “It’s not good enough to teach people to fish. People need a spot on the river to reach the fish.” I’d take it step further, and add that the place provided must also have a viable fish population!

She speaks to the heart of why Social Justice Solutions exists. So where do we go from here?


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