Philanthrocapitalism uses capitalist rubrics of competition, market dynamics, quantitative accountability, the ability to scale, and the imperative for growth, and applies them to social and charitable causes. If these methods work to quickly achieve wealth for private individuals, why not employ the same, proven-successful methods for the collective benefit of those who cannot access traditional capitalistic venues for their own benefit?
Marshall McLuhan actually thought about this issue way back in 1972, in his almost undecipherable book, Take Today: The executive as dropout. He asks - and answers - the question, "Why is a kingdom not a business? Because it’s a service. In business, money is the measure. In kingdoms, man is the measure. Every service is paid for by huge disservices to the community. Count your blessings, but don’t try to evaluate them!"
Edwards frames the same observation this way:
The most important results measure impact at the deepest levels of social transformation, and there is a wealth of evidence showing that they are generated by social movements that rarely use the language or methods of business management. Yet, to repeat, there is already evidence that those who do use these techniques encounter trade-offs with their social mission.He goes on to warn that, despite the best of intentions (isn't it always the way?) philanthrocapitalism might well be harming social movements and the vibrancy of civil society. The reason? Because the methods and metrics used by each are polar opposites:
It is easy to identify quick fixes in terms of business criteria, only to find out that what seemed inefficient turns out to be essential for civil society's social and political impact - like maintaining local chapters of a movement when it would be cheaper to the central office to combine them. And although solutions have to work economically this doesn't necessarily imply the raising of commercial revenue. Philanthrocapitalists sometimes paint reliance on donations, grants and membership contributions as a weakness for civil-society organisations, but it can be a source of strength because it connects them to their constituencies and the public - so long as their revenue streams are sufficiently diverse to weather the inevitable storms along the way.
Business metrics privilege size, growth and market share, as opposed to the quality of interactions between people and the capacities and institutions they help to create. When investors evaluate a business, they ultimately need to answer only one question - how much money will it make? The equivalent for civil society is the social impact that organisations might achieve, alone and together, but that is much more difficult to evaluate.For me, I see this as articulating the difference between organizations founded on an Industrial Age foundation, as opposed to those created with a UCaPP sensibility. Reading each through a Valence Theory informed lens highlights the differences. Like most traditional BAH-organizations, the predominant focus is strictly on quantifiable outcomes measured in economic terms, with all other valence relationships taking positions of secondary or less priority. But just, social transformation in a contemporary context requires balance among all the five valences: Edwards points to the civil rights movement in the U.S., and asks, "Would philanthrocapitalism have helped to finance the civil-rights movement in the US? I hope so, but it wasn't "data-driven", it didn't operate through competition, it couldn't generate much revenue, and it didn't measure its impact in terms of the numbers of people who were served each day, yet it changed the world forever."
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