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  • I want to help you re-perceive what philanthropy is,

  • what it could be,

  • and what your relationship to it is.

  • And in doing that, I want to offer you a vision,

  • an imagined future, if you will,

  • of how, as the poet Seamus Heaney has put it,

  • "Once in a lifetime

  • the longed-for tidal wave of justice can rise up,

  • and hope and history rhyme."

  • I want to start with these word pairs here.

  • We all know which side of these we'd like to be on.

  • When philanthropy was reinvented a century ago,

  • when the foundation form was actually invented,

  • they didn't think of themselves on the wrong side of these either.

  • In fact they would never have thought of themselves

  • as closed and set in their ways,

  • as slow to respond to new challenges,

  • as small and risk-averse.

  • And in fact they weren't. They were reinventing charity in those times,

  • what Rockefeller called "the business of benevolence."

  • But by the end of the 20th century,

  • a new generation of critics and reformers

  • had come to see philanthropy just this way.

  • The thing to watch for

  • as a global philanthropy industry comes about --

  • and that's exactly what is happening --

  • is how the aspiration is to flip

  • these old assumptions,

  • for philanthropy to become open and big

  • and fast and connected, in service of the long term.

  • This entrepreneurial energy

  • is emerging from many quarters.

  • And it's driven and propelled forward by new leaders, like many of the people here,

  • by new tools, like the ones we've seen here,

  • and by new pressures.

  • I've been following this change for quite a while now, and participating in it.

  • This report is our main public report.

  • What it tells is the story of how today

  • actually could be as historic

  • as 100 years ago.

  • What I want to do is share some of the coolest things

  • that are going on with you.

  • And as I do that, I'm not going to dwell much

  • on the very large philanthropy that everybody already knows about --

  • the Gates or the Soros or the Google.

  • Instead, what I want to do

  • is talk about the philanthropy of all of us:

  • the democratization of philanthropy.

  • This is a moment in history when the average person

  • has more power than at any time.

  • What I'm going to do is look at five categories of experiments,

  • each of which challenges an old assumption of philanthropy.

  • The first is mass collaboration, represented here by Wikipedia.

  • Now, this may surprise you.

  • But remember, philanthropy is about giving of time and talent, not just money.

  • Clay Shirky, that great chronicler of everything networked,

  • has captured the assumption that this challenges

  • in such a beautiful way.

  • He said, "We have lived in this world

  • where little things are done for love

  • and big things for money.

  • Now we have Wikipedia.

  • Suddenly big things can be done for love."

  • Watch, this spring, for Paul Hawken's new book --

  • Author and entrepreneur many of you may know about.

  • The book is called "Blessed Unrest."

  • And when it comes out, a series of wiki sites

  • under the label WISER, are going to launch at the same time.

  • WISER stands for World Index

  • for Social and Environmental Responsibility.

  • WISER sets out to document, link and empower

  • what Paul calls the largest movement,

  • and fastest-growing movement in human history:

  • humanity's collective immune response

  • to today's threats.

  • Now, all of these big things for love -- experiments --

  • aren't going to take off.

  • But the ones that do

  • are going to be the biggest, the most open,

  • the fastest, the most connected form of philanthropy in human history.

  • Second category is online philanthropy marketplaces.

  • This is, of course, to philanthropy

  • what eBay and Amazon are to commerce.

  • Think of it as peer-to-peer philanthropy.

  • And this challenges yet another assumption,

  • which is that organized philanthropy is only for the very wealthy.

  • Take a look, if you haven't, at DonorsChoose.

  • Omidyar Network has made a big investment in DonorsChoose.

  • It's one of the best known of these new marketplaces

  • where a donor can go straight into a classroom

  • and connect with what a teacher says they need.

  • Take a look at Changing the Present,

  • started by a TEDster, next time you need a wedding present or a holiday present.

  • GiveIndia is for a whole country.

  • And it goes on and on.

  • The third category is represented by Warren Buffet,

  • which I call aggregated giving.

  • It's not just that Warren Buffet was so amazingly generous

  • in that historic act last summer.

  • It's that he challenged another assumption,

  • that every giver should have his or her own

  • fund or foundation.

  • There are now, today, so many new funds

  • that are aggregating giving and investing,

  • bringing together people

  • around a common goal, to think bigger.

  • One of the best known is Acumen Fund, led by Jacqueline Novogratz,

  • a TEDster who got a big boost here at TED.

  • But there are many others: New Profit in Cambridge,

  • New School's Venture Fund in Silicon Valley,

  • Venture Philanthropy Partners in Washington,

  • Global Fund for Women in San Francisco.

  • Take a look at these.

  • These funds are to philanthropy

  • what venture capital, private equity, and eventually mutual funds

  • are to investing,

  • but with a twist --

  • because often a community forms around these funds,

  • as it has at Acumen and other places.

  • Now, imagine for a second

  • these first three types of experiments:

  • mass collaboration, online marketplaces, aggregated giving.

  • And understand how they help us re-perceive

  • what organized philanthropy is.

  • It's not about foundations necessarily; it's about the rest of us.

  • And imagine the mash-up, if you will, of these things, in the future,

  • when these things come together in the experiments of the future --

  • imagine that somebody puts up, say,

  • 100 million dollars

  • for an inspiring goal --

  • there were 21 gifts of 100 million dollars or more in the US last year,

  • not out of the question --

  • but only puts it up if it's matched

  • by millions of small gifts from around the globe,

  • thereby engaging lots of people,

  • and building visibility and engaging people

  • in the goal that's stated.

  • I'm going to look quickly at the fourth and fifth categories,

  • which are innovation, competitions and social investing.

  • They're betting a visible competition, a prize,

  • can attract talent and money to some of the most difficult issues,

  • and thereby speed the solution.

  • This tackles yet another assumption,

  • that the giver and the organization is at the center,

  • as opposed to putting the problem at the center.

  • You can look to these innovators

  • to help us especially with things that require

  • technological or scientific solution.

  • That leaves the final category, social investing,

  • which is really, anyway, the biggest of them all,

  • represented here by Xigi.net.

  • And this, of course, tackles the biggest assumption of all,

  • that business is business,

  • and philanthropy is the vehicle of people who want to create change in the world.

  • Xigi is a new community site

  • that's built by the community,

  • linking and mapping this new social capital market.

  • It lists already 1,000 entities

  • that are offering debt and equity for social enterprise.

  • So we can look to these innovators

  • to help us remember

  • that if we can leverage even a small amount of the capital

  • that seeks a return,

  • the good that can be driven could be astonishing.

  • Now, what's really interesting here

  • is that we're not thinking our way

  • into a new way of acting;

  • we're acting our way into a new way of thinking.

  • Philanthropy is reorganizing itself

  • before our very eyes.

  • And even though all of the experiments and all of the big givers

  • don't yet fulfill this aspiration,

  • I think this is the new zeitgeist:

  • open, big, fast, connected,

  • and, let us also hope, long.

  • We have got to realize that it is going to take a long time to do these things.

  • If we don't develop the stamina to stick with things --

  • whatever it is you pick, stick with it --

  • all of this stuff is just going to be, you know, a fad.

  • But I'm really hopeful.

  • And I'm hopeful because it's not only philanthropy

  • that's reorganizing itself,

  • it's also whole other portions of the social sector,

  • and of business,

  • that are busy challenging "business as usual."

  • And everywhere I go, including here at TED,

  • I feel that there is a new moral hunger

  • that is growing.

  • What we're seeing is people really wrestling

  • to describe what is this new thing that's happening.

  • Words like "philanthrocapitalism,"

  • and "natural capitalism," and "philanthroentrepreneur,"

  • and "venture philanthropy."

  • We don't have a language for it yet.

  • Whatever we call it,

  • it's new, it's beginning,

  • and I think it's gong to quite significant.

  • And that's where my imagined future comes in,

  • which I am going to call the social singularity.

  • Many of you will realize that I'm ripping a bit off of the science fiction writer

  • Vernor Vinge's notion of a technological singularity,

  • where a number of trends accelerate and converge

  • and come together to create, really, a shockingly new reality.

  • It may be that the social singularity

  • ahead is the one that we fear the most:

  • a convergence of catastrophes,

  • of environmental degradation,

  • of weapons of mass destruction, of pandemics,

  • of poverty.

  • That's because

  • our ability to confront the problems that we face

  • has not kept pace with our ability to create them.

  • And as we've heard here,

  • it is no exaggeration to say

  • that we hold the future of our civilization in our hands

  • as never before.

  • The question is, is there a positive social singularity?

  • Is there a frontier for us

  • of how we live together?

  • Our future doesn't have to be imagined.

  • We can create a future where hope and history rhyme.

  • But we have a problem.

  • Our experience to date, both individually and collectively,

  • hasn't prepared us for what we're going to need to do,

  • or who we're going to need to be.

  • We are going to need

  • a new generation of citizen leaders

  • willing to commit ourselves to growing and changing and learning

  • as rapidly as possible.

  • That's why I have one last thing I want to show you.

  • This is a photograph taken about 100 years ago

  • of my grandfather and great-grandfather.

  • This is a newspaper publisher and a banker.

  • And they were great community leaders.

  • And, yes, they were great philanthropists.

  • I keep this photograph close by to me --

  • it's in my office --

  • because I've always felt a mystical connection to these two men,

  • both of whom I never knew.

  • And so, in their honor,

  • I want to offer you this blank slide.

  • And I want you to imagine

  • that this a photograph of you.

  • And I want you to think about the community

  • that you want to be part of creating.

  • Whatever that means to you.

  • And I want you to imagine

  • that it's 100 years from now,

  • and your grandchild, or great-grandchild,

  • or niece or nephew or god-child,

  • is looking at this photograph of you.

  • What is the story you most want for them to tell?

  • Thank you very much.

  • (Applause)

I want to help you re-perceive what philanthropy is,