I am a constant critic of many philanthropy and nonprofit practices. My husband likes to say "give them a break, they are trying to do something nice." My personal motto is "do good better", so it is impossible for me to "give them a break". But I have noticed that more and more of us are getting stuck on the better part and are ignoring the do good part. This was recently highlighted for me when I was listening to Tiny Spark on NPR. Tiny Spark is a new effort to ignite a debate about the business of doing good. Their latest podcast is about Tom's Shoes and the controversy about who received the shoes. The reporter seemed disappointed that Tom's distibute the shoes to children who already have a pair of shoes. My first thought was "so what?". Kids can't have two pairs of shoes? Last time I checked, Nike or Adidas was not giving a pair of shoes away for everyone that is sold and the Tom's model feels like progress to me. It isn't perfect, but it changes how we look at what is possible. By spending so much time and energy on gaps in new ways of doing good I think we discourage others from trying. The other place where this has come to life for me is Invisible Children and the Kony controversey. My 12 year old daughter came home from school and asked me what I am doing to help the kids that Kony has kidnapped. This is not her regular conversation after school. This started a great discussion and opened up her ability to look beyond herself. It may not have been done perfectly but it started an important conversation about how we are all connected.
I am beginning to believe that there is a continuum of doing good and choosing inaction as we wait for perfection will get us no where.
What do you think?