My first book, co-authored with Tom Ahern…Keep Your Donors: The Guide to Better Communications and Stronger Relationships, published in 2008. The final special chapter, is called “CODA: Philanthropy’s Moral Dilemma.”
Later, I made this book chapter into a stand-alone publication…a document in the Learning Center in this website. A document included in workshops and courses that I teach…over and over.
I started that chapter with 3 quotations…I often use quotations in my business books … quotes from various sources, even romance novels and sci fi fantasy!
Philanthropy’s Moral Dilemma…my manifesto…starts with 3 quotations:
• One from Alfre Woodard in the special book Robin Hood Was Right. (Today her reference to “every man, woman, and child” might be altered to better reflect sexual identity.)
• The other from Howard Zinn – You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train.
• And as Pope John XXIII said, “Justice comes before charity.”
In this manifesto, I wrote about: The politics of power in philanthropy. The moral dilemma facing philanthropy. Power, sometimes silent but ever present. Privilege, the driving nature of power. Understanding the two types of philanthropy. Tradition dominates. The less social justice we have, the more philanthropy we need. We are complicit. Philanthropy as a democratizing act. Attacking the moral dilemma.
And here’s the conclusion to this 2008 manifesto:
Here is one of my favorite stories, told by Warren Buffet based on John Rawls A Theory of Justice. I modified Buffet’s words somewhat. For me, this story represents philanthropy’s moral dilemma.
“Imagine that it’s 24 hours before you were born. A genie appears and says: You get to set the rules of the society into which you will be born. You can set the economic rules and the social rules and all the other rules. The rules you set will apply during your lifetime and for the lifetime of your children and even grandchildren.”
Just imagine how thrilled you are with this offer! But you’re smart. You ask, “What’s the catch?”
And the genie says: “You don’t know if you’re going to be born poor or rich, White or of color, infirm or able bodied, homosexual or heterosexual, or female or male.
“So what rules do you want?”
My (Simone) answer is: I know what rules I want, equity and social justice for all.
I know that to create this world requires social change / progressive philanthropy, not only traditional mainstream philanthropy.
I (Simone) know that this means transformation, more probably revolution. I think it’s time for more subversive acts like asking cage-rattling questions. Confronting complicity and challenging privilege and power. Exploring morality and speaking out. Increasing philanthropy for social change.
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I ended Philanthropy’s Moral Dilemma with these words:
But I have hope.
“La esperanza muere última.” Hope dies last. (Jessie de la Cruz, retired farm worker recounting the days before Cesar Chavez and the founding of the United Farm Workers. Studs Terkel uses this 2003 book Hope Dies Last: Keeping Faith in Difficult Times.)
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How naive was I? I’m writing this issue of Simone Uncensored on March 24, 2021.
I look at all the shootings………… The usual targets, our Black friends, neighbors, community members – and now school children and………. The USA which ranks 53rd in gender parity throughout the world’s nations………. Denying reproductive justice and sexual identity……….
I feel guiltier and guiltier. I aim for shock and discomfort – particularly when I’m speaking at some conference somewhere. I often introduce myself like this: “Hello, my name is Simone Joyaux. I’m a white, heterosexual, well-educated and affluent woman. All that unearned privilege.”
And I watch some people twitch at that self-intro.
• There were a couple of written reviews that said “I didn’t come here to hear that stuff. I came to learn about fundraising!” (My response, if I could have contacted them: “Fundraising and nonprofits and government and for-profits and all of life are about this stuff!!!)
• Then a woman came up to me at the end of a live presentation. She asked me, “May I hug you for what you said? Because I can’t marry a women I love.”
Sometimes I feel lost and so sad…even as I recognize my unearned privilege.