A Shift Toward Small Change?

Not one hour ago I was reflecting on how I view my own work and practice, noticing that I tend to see myself primarily as an individual operator, citizen, practitioner. What I do as an individual links me to groups, but those groups do not define me. I expect my contributions and actions to define them.

This seems in line with a shift reported recently in City Journal:

And compared with the liberal philanthropies of a generation ago, social entrepreneurs focus less (if at all) on political advocacy or litigation aimed at policy change and far more on helping the poor to get ahead as individuals through job training, mentoring, and tutoring. “Changing the system,” in other words, has taken a backseat to incremental, verifiable improvement in the lives of those assisted. Without quite being aware of the change themselves, at least some in the nonprofit world have moved back toward the provision of what Andrew Carnegie, known for the free libraries he created across America after making his fortune in steel, called “ladders on which the aspiring can rise.”

As changing the system takes a backseat to helping people advance, would not institutionalized programs also be overcome by direct personal responsibility, contribution and action? This sounds an awful lot like SmallChange to me. Thanks to Lenore Ealy and her Philanthropic Enterprise email list for the reference.

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