Published in The Chronicle Of Philanthropy

By Hilary Pennington and Kathy Reich

Too often in America, as people achieve success, they seem to think they need to listen less to others around them. That’s why we hear creeping bombasticism in politics, religion, business, and the world where we work: big philanthropy.

Indeed, both elite, old-line philanthropy, like our institution, the Ford Foundation, and the new donors who made their fortunes in high tech and finance suffer from the same malady: talking to peers in an echo chamber of ideas and theories about how best to put charitable donations to work to solve big problems. These conversations may or may not be grounded in the realities faced by the people and organizations we are trying to help. As a result, grants may be construed in ways that ultimately fail to meet the goals of the nonprofit and the donor.

The Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is an independent organization working to address inequality and build a future grounded in justice. For more than 85 years, it has supported visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. Today, with an endowment of $16 billion, the foundation has headquarters in New York and 10 regional offices across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

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