Shutting up and giving

By Editor of SocialBusiness.org Charity, especially when it comes to monetary donations, is often a one-way act. We give and therefore we can sleep at night. But not everyone puts in the work to see where their money goes? Who does it reach? Who does it exclude? Who is it hurting, if anyone? And how does it get there? The Founder and Chief Consultant of Cornerstone International, LLC, Chad Jordan, recently wrote a piece for Business Fights Poverty called “Shut Up & Give, In search of sustainable solutions to global poverty.” The article explores his hesitancy to see that business and development initiatives could not only work together, but work together well. More interestingly, however, Jordan questions the international development field in which he comes from. Here’s an excerpt from the article, which stems from a Cornerstone book called Shut Up and Give? Eradicating Global Poverty by Breaking the Cycle of Dependency We Created:

My work has always focused on increasing local capacity in the underserved world, but learning what I did about business as a development tool changed my perspective.  I started asking a lot of questions about the approach I had long ago subscribed to, questions about the way the majority of the West relates to the underserved.  Will I simply shut up & give to the same projects, the same programs, and the same goals?  Or will I examine the results, question the outcomes, and shift my thinking?

This was a pretty easy decision learning what I did from those who “got it.”  We need to question the way we’ve always done things in regard to poverty eradication.  Tradition doesn’t always translate into meaning the best way.  We don’t need to start over – we need to build on what has been done by adding some new elements.  We need to bring in business principles, financial leaders, and corporate accountability to our development programming.

The truth is – although I was hesitant to jump aboard – business terminology does belong in our development conversations.  As long as profit doesn’t trump local empowerment and capacity building, there’s nothing wrong with making money while helping people.

The traditional business focus on evaluating, as Jordan puts it, outcomes is crucial. Both fields need to focus more, I think, on affect — on how people feel and how people feel involved. Affect theory has a recent push in being infected with politics and I think the same could go for business and development, even though development (and social entrepreneurship) is typically seen as a people-focused realm. Jordan’s point, overall, is to be critical, no matter what profession you come from. Be critical of others and be critical of your own and the hybrids in between.

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