Beyond Hacking Philanthropy

This entry to the One Post Challenge comes from Kevin Jones. Kevin is a principal at Good Capital and blogs at xchangexchange.

By Kevin Jones

There are events like Hacking philanthropy, where people try to come up with new ways to crack the code of giving. There are events like Josh Becker’s zero tradeoff conference where a new group of funds say you can invest to do good at no discount to return. Both approaches are attracting a lot of people and attention. And I think they’re great, but I also think something deeper needs to happen.

If you are hacking philanthropy, it’s like, in technology terms, that you are just hacking at the interface level; you are buying into the set of assumptions, the implicit myths that the system offers you. The true power of the open source Linux system is that it opens up the root level, where you can decide which interface, which set of assumptions you buy, or where you can even create a new set. That’s where I want to play. At the root, superuser level, where you decide who you are, look at your resources and decide what impact you want to make in the world, without the hard and fast categories of giving and investing, two pocket thinking that you’ve had handed down to you.

I want to hack at the root level, not just hack philanthropy or investing. I want to reconsider the basic equation. What impact do I want to make in the world? How much do I need, how much can I share for the sake of all?


  1. Phil says:

    Excllent. At the root level you also have to ask to what extent giving is best understood as a) investing b) tax deductible giving c) a way to create public goods as are taxes d) an expression of love d) a moral or religious obligation e) an expression of the holy spirit d) an exercise in will to power and ego gratification e) atonement for sin f) greenwashing

    The frames we put around the topic of giving are very diverse. The more we can foment a discussion at that level, the better. “Hacking philanthropy” is both very creative as a lingusitic frame and unbelievably reductive and parochial. (Money and technology and MBA logic to not exhaust the human spirit or the enterprise of creating a better and more just world.)

  2. Kevin Jones says:

    the quality of mercy is not strained.