Peter Buffett, son of millionaire Warren Buffett, feels that there needs to be some changes in the field of philanthropy. He sees the problem as too much focus on the donor and not enough on the ground. If our system of philanthropy is keeping people here employed, then it’s not fully functional, according to Buffett.
When we put all the emphasis on making the donor feel good, he calls this “philanthropic colonialism.” The term sent some shock waves through the charity community. It was split about 50/50 on who felt how about it.
His words sounded harsh to some, especially when he said everyone who works in the philanthropic sector needs to be “driven to lose their jobs.” What he meant is that our “charity,” a term he hates, needs restructuring. Buffett said he want to see the work come with scaffolding that puts entire structures in place. Having water or food is great, but then what? Once they eat the food and drink the water, these people are still living in poverty.
He recently said, “I suppose you could call it a priority problem, but it’s deeper than that. It’s a systemic and functional problem. I really think we need two kinds of philanthropy. One is to stop the bleeding: the food, the shelters, all of those are necessary. But there should also be a real appetite for building scaffolding around a new system of behavior, new economies, new ways of looking at markets. We’re always talking about lifting people out of poverty from living on two dollars a day, but I am thinking, how can we all live on two dollars a day?”
Peter Buffett works for a foundation called NoVo. Their mission is to foster a transformation from a world of domination and exploitation to one of collaboration and partnership.