Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Conversation III: Philanthropy SMACKDOWN

Createquity's latest Around the Horn features GiveWell launching a fairly sustained and intelligent criticism of Philanthropedia, as well as a two part response from Philanthropedia.

Honestly, the ins and outs of philanthropy isn't really so high on my radar, probably because I haven't gotten enough of an income to donate beyond supporting autism education in NYC in pitiful small change, a little bit of money to the Obama campaign, and regular contributions to public radio. What drew me to read the articles in full, however (and believe me, it is in full for blog posts) was the tone of conversation.

GiveWell thinks that Philanthropedia is dodgy people, relying on "Experts" who aren't fully disclosed or defined. But GiveWell doesn't write a 40 word post full of scorn and derision. GiveWell writes a long, clearly structured, point-by-point summation of their central concerns with Philanthropedia's approach.

Philanthropedia responds in an even longer, point-by-point approach. How? By thanking GiveWell for their efforts, and acknowledging the weaknesses that GiveWell highlights while respectfully disagreeing on their real impact -- basically, Philanthropedia wants us to look past the flaws, and look at the vision.

The one that left me more convinced was GiveWell. I certainly walked away from Philanthropedia thinking that they were an organization that cares, and that in a year or so they might be a really useful tool for philanthropy, but they had to concede too many points to GiveWell.

But really, I'm highlighting this not because of the actual philanthropy argument, but because of the tone of the conversation, the rigor with which both sides approached their points. I'd love to see GiveWell respond. And Philanthropedia respond with that. I want to see some of the information that Philanthropedia talks about in the future tense.

Hey guys, remember when David Cote asked bloggers to Enrage/Engage more? I was always thought that the "engage" side of the slash would be far more helpful to use than the "enrage" side. I think, if you're a philanthropist, you gained far more from this mode of conversation than if @GiveWell had tweeted "Who are @Philan-pedia's 'experts'? They're as qualified as FOX experts LOL" and then spent the next few weeks sniping at each other calling the other unserious organizations or whatever passes for philanthropy smack talk.

(Updated: Misnumbered my own series again)