Pablo Eisenberg weighs in on the debate over strategic philanthropy at the Chronicle of Philanthropy.
Eisenberg, long a leading thinker in the nonprofit world and a prominent left-of-center critic, has more sympathy for William Schambra's side of the argument with Paul Brest, but he thinks the whole debate is off kilter:
It’s time for everyone in philanthropy to stop debating the merits of strategic grant making and whether everyone needs to measure results with statistical precision. Instead, let’s focus on what keeps philanthropy from solving serious problems: the unwillingness of foundations and big donors to realize they don’t have all the answers. Nonprofits should have a greater role in driving the agenda.
I agree that foundations and big donors are easily prey to hubris, but I'm baffled why those on the left don't see more clearly that the rise of social science in the so-called Progressive Era has reinforced foundations' belief in their own answers and their disbelief in ordinary citizens' ability to improve their communities.
It's also baffling why the same folks on the left don't see that big government is even more dangerous than big philanthropy.
(My latest back-and-forth with Brest is here.)