For Impact


The Economist and The Atlantic: Looks at Global Wealth and Philanthropy

For Impact Ideas | | Nick Fellers

Two REQUIRED READINGS from the last two weeks.

First, The Atlantic cover story: The Rise of the New Ruling Class – How the Global Elite is Leaving You Behind. This story describes the global entrepreneur and how – on the one hand we are losing the middle class in the states – the ‘upper class’ is thriving in this global playground. The real trend-spotting looks at the global implications for business and philanthropy. The takeaways for me:

  • The top 5% is amassing even more wealth… much, if not most of this, still resides in the states.
  • Persisting talks of economic hardship would be in reference to speculative losses like housing bubble and the disappearing middle class in the states. In terms of total wealth and global wealth things are fine or even ‘dandy’.
  • In due course, philanthropy is following suit with the increases in wealth and disparity. This widening gap reminds me of osmosis – the scientific principle that describes the movement of water molecules from an area of low solute concentration to one of high concentration. As wealth becomes more concentrated (not a new trend) and even greater in measure, we will see greater levels of philanthropic osmosis.

The second ‘grab your attention’ cover was from last week’s Economist. If you’ve committed your life to the social sector, or your work intersects with philanthropy or global change, then take the time to read this. Some takeaway implications for me:

  • In the information age the brains make the money. The reason EVERY business book/article/conversation is about TALENT is because today’s business landscape is defined by thinking. Even if you don’t think this affects you as a leader it does and it will. You should be vigilant to find, and get the best minds on your team because they’re not going to be sitting around responding to job postings.
  • Enterepreneurs… and more entrepreneurs. Both articles highlight the driving engine of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial thinkers… and the implications on giving. Entrepreneurs think about ROI. “The way they measure their success [philanthropically] is by the return they earn on their charitable investment, measured in lives saved or improved.

Note: The other day I heard from an ED who had just secured a big gift. The ED said, “I got a taste of what it must be like to fundraise in the good times.” Arggh! We ARE in the good times. I intended for this post to be a jolt to those that think we’re still in a recession. We’re sooooo not in a recession. Or, at least the people that have the true capacity (financially) to help you change, save and impact lives are not in a recession. Stop using that as an excuse.