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There’s never been so many ways for so many people to come together and do some good. But why do we do good and how can we be sure the changes we seek are meaningful and lasting?
In Saturday’s edition of The New York Times, an op-ed column from NoVo Foundation chair Peter Buffett sparked some serious social media chatter about the motivations and challenges of doing good. Son of legendary investor Warren Buffett, Peter briefly outlines his intellectual journey as shepherd of a massive fortune bestowed upon the NoVo Foundation as a result of his father’s making good on promising to give back almost all of his accumulated wealth to society.
Peter raises plenty of questions about how and why people choose to do good, and it’s never been more important to raise them, as today’s increasingly, mutil-layered, inter-dependent, hyper-connected, globalized world means opportunities to do good have never been so numerous and wide-ranging. For the second year in a row the Global Citizen Festival, organized by the Global Poverty Project, has collected a crucial cross-section of those opportunities in one place, and linked them to a chance to win a pair of the 54,000 free tickets to see Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, John Mayer and Kings of Leon in concert later this year in New York City. Here are just ten of the opportunities to do some good on the Global Citizen website, each of which earns registered users points they can redeem for a chance to win tickets to the concert, scheduled for September 28, 2013, on the Great Lawn in New York City’s Central Park.
So are these opportunities and the rest of the Global Citizen Project just more of the same “charitable-industrial complex” designed merely to give a few beneficiaries of massive injustice a chance to make themselves feel better, as Peter Buffett describes in his op-ed column? Or is it something else, perhaps an indication of a growing culture of widespread, democratized participation in doing good that aims to break wide open those same philanthropic meetings that Buffett describes, bringing in some fresh air and less-privileged perspective into conversations about what progress means and how to make it happen?
It’s a debate worth having. Tell us what you think in the comments below.
(Disclosure: NoVo Foundation has been a huge supporter of BRAC over the past few years, and Peter along with his wife Jennifer sit on the BRAC USA Advisory Council.)