Philanthropy consultant Thomas Tierney argues for bigger, longer grants to fewer organizations. “How many social problems can be solved with $50,000? Over 18 months? Not many.” (This is in The Weekly Standard: “Rich Rewards” by Martin Morse Wooster. Good article.)
But I’d like to know how many social problems can be solved with $50 million or even $50 trillion over whatever timespan you want. No more than with $50,000, I’d wager.
What business do philanthropic organizations have in trying to solve social problems anyway. Why can’t they just try to help people who need help? There are all sorts of good things they can do — helping build institutions by which people can help themselves, funding technological improvements, and who knows what else. But solving social problems? I think that one is beyond their competence, just as much as it’s beyond government’s competence.