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Dear Jeff,

Interesting thought that perhaps your philanthropic strategy should be the opposite of business, focused on short term, "right now" goals!

I’d like to respectfully disagree—while direct service, as in feeding hungry stomachs, is needed and utterly important, philanthropy can go further.

Think of civil rights, the fall of the Berlin wall, the hospice movement, the modern standards of nursing, the Montessori methodology, the American library system . . . helping these ideas to fruition meant to believe in something more than short term results.

Whether or not ideas need philanthropic money does not correlate at all to how powerful they are in shaping the future. And not too seldom, philanthropic endeavors shape markets of tomorrow. Mobile banking was pioneered by a non-profit. Spearheaders of the sharing economy were non-profits.

If you look for systems-changing and mindset-shifting ideas, your dollars will have way more impact—in philanthropy as in business. 

In response to your call for ideas, we've invited Ashoka Fellows to share their ideas in the coming days at #IdeasforJeff—enjoy!

Ashoka’s leader in North America

This article was originally published on 16 June 2017
Related TopicsBusiness & Social Enterprise Social investment Civic Engagement Changemaking Social Entrepreneurship


Konstanze leads Ashoka in North America and is a member of the Global Leadership Group. She founded Ashoka in her native Germany in 2003, convinced that social entrepreneurship was needed in Western Europe. Thus, she introduced a radically new concept of social innovation and with her colleagues built up the most powerful network of innovators across the continent. She also co-founded the Globalizer, an initiative re-defining what we mean by scale. She became Ashoka Europe’s director in 2011, before moving to the US in early 2015. Konstanze is a social anthropologist with a degree from the LSE, and has lived in Germany, the UK, and Costa Rica. She worked for CNN and was a tenured writer for Germany’s quality broadsheet FAZ, as well as a member of the team that launched the Sunday paper FAS to large public acclaim, winning the European Newspaper Award. Until her departure to the US, she was a board member of GLS Bank, Germany’s leading credit union committed to sustainability.

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