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Half-baked thoughts on Philanthropy

You no doubt saw Philanthropy for Hackers. I dug the concepts. His rules for giving are good ones:

  • Start giving early
  • Deploy capital quickly
  • Remain small and bet big
  • Follow market logic
  • Get political

All good rules, we should all strive to follow them (not just billionaires – giving should be a small part of all of our lives).

Peter Diamandis posted a challenge; that more philanthropists specifically target the impact they want to make. This intersects well with Parker’s “hackable” problems. I love this idea.

The other part that jumped out at me as being totally true was this:

“They want to interact directly with the scientists, field workers and academics whose ideas power the philanthropic world but who have traditionally been hidden away in a backroom somewhere…”

That reminded me of two foundations/organizations doing a really excellent job at collecting and sharing these experiments:

I’m not sure, but it seems like the progenitor of the trend might be Gates with his Gates Notes on HealthEnergy, and Education. Whoever started it, we’re going to get a lot more of it over the next generation of philanthropy. The great part about this is that we’ll widely be smarter and more informed as a society because of it.

Anyway, thought you’d really enjoy the latter group of these – the content being the key deliverable for a good foundation is a new thing and I think it better aligns motives. Captivating content increases the visibility of the project, and therefore of the donor. Having to publish good content, which is effectively semi-peer-reviewed because it can’t impugn the reputation of the donor, puts an onus on the foundation to do some novel work and to do it reasonably well. We also preserve more knowledge this way.

It’s certainly not the cure for all (or most) of philanthropies challenges, but it’s a nice trend that I’d like to see more of. Who else is doing a good job of sharing these types of insights? 

Who are the good think-tanks that have effectively become high-quality publications? Are there more in the political/business realm?

I think Long Now qualifies (long-term thinking and prioritization). So does ThinkWithGoogle (marketing) and KurzweilAI (singularity proselytization). 

That has to be a wildly incomplete list (and a clear admission of where my attention goes) – who else am I missing?

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