There are different stakeholders within the philanthropic industry, and each faces different challenges with different needs. For the industry to become more efficient, these issues should be viewed and addressed holistically.
Whatever you think of Peter Buffett's theories, at least he's engaged in looking for solutions. He's not patting himself on the back. He's willing to look at both the yin and the yang of philanthropy. I admire that Buffett doesn't profess to have the answers.
What we have in the philanthropic industry is an ability to identify what are the problems, but no imaginative ideas for how they can be addressed. Great people, great intentions, but the results will not arrive.
At the end of the day, Buffett raised some serious questions in an honest and courageous way. Those of us in the nonprofit sector would do well to consider whether our role in the "charitable-industrial complex" is making the world a better place -- or merely perpetuating "conscience laundering."
At the Aspen Leadership Action Forum, where I am joining leading figures from around the world to pledge action on the problems of poverty, access to health care, education, etc., there is much talk about making sure philanthropy is effective.
If people like Peter Buffett and other major philanthropic and business leaders took seriously the unglamorous truths about ending poverty, and spoke out about them, it would create the conditions for not just a new story, but a new political movement that would transform the world.
People are starting to gather around deeply personal and unique aspects of themselves -- and because of their sheer number and the ease of personal expression, the Internet is providing a much more nuanced look at behavior and true ideology.
I keep coming back to the question, "how much is enough?" Now you may think that's a pretty ironic question coming from the son of one of the richest people in the world. But actually, it might just make me an expert on the subject.
For many thousands of years, most of life was a mystery. Still today it can feel pretty mysterious walking on an unlit country road. We created many (many, many) stories to account for the things we didn't understand.
"Out of sight, out of mind" has played a huge role in how we've gotten into the environmental mess we're in now. We don't live in that world anymore. We can see our brothers and sisters across the globe. We can distribute necessary things far and wide.
Many of the Chinese people I speak to seem to be deeply concerned that China will lose something extremely rare and valuable in the rush towards a very confounding version of growth and happiness. And it's not just the older people.
Peter Buffett seeks to leave his audience with an inspirational and rewarding experience that develops ideas for living a fulfilling life. I thought it would be helpful to talk to Peter to get a better idea about the show.