Beth Kanter Gets It

When I was a student, I would often find scholars who were thinking the same thing I was – but were able to express themselves far more eloquently than I ever could. I’ve recently found someone just like that when it comes to my thoughts on charities. That person is Beth Kanter.

Beth Kanter

I don’t believe the reason extreme poverty exists is because of a lack of charities. In my lifetime, the number of charities fighting global poverty has grown astronomically. Yet, we haven’t seen a proportional decrease in global poverty.

The reason I haven’t formalized, disadvantages aside, is because global poverty won’t be solved with yet another charity. Instead, I believe we need to change the conversation and change how we work to solve this problem.

Before starting this project, I never realized how competitive and insular many charities can become. Some charities won’t even talk to their sister branches in other countries! And many charities expect outsiders like me just to stick to signing petitions and checks.

Whether or not it’s through my project, I want charities to be more about communities – not corporate structure. I want them to collaborate – not compete. I want individuals like me to be able to “plug in” and help.

That’s exactly what Beth Kanter is talking about. Except she does it from a position of a well-respected expert and scholar. Here’s what she has to say about how charities should be conducting themselves in the 21st century:

What I like about Beth is that she completely understands the frustrations I have to deal with. I’m what she calls a “free agent”: someone who does what a charity does, but as an individual. Both Beth & I think free agents should team up with charities – but many charities resist this:

Thanks to Beth and the Red Cross’s Wendy Harman, I’ve been making a lot of progress in teaming up with the Red Cross. In fact, I’ve made more progress in a few weeks with the Red Cross than I have with my year-long talks with Save the Children.

Prior to meeting Beth, I would have raised my arms in frustration at this resistance many charities throw up when it comes to teaming up with free agents. But, Beth has made me realize that I need to imagine organizations complexly. People inside may want change, but the organization itself might be a “fortress”.

And really, in many respects, people like Beth aren’t just talking about what charities should be doing. What Beth is really talking about is what charities must do if they want to exist in the 21st century. It will be interesting to see which ones evolve… and which ones become obsolete.

3 Responses to “Beth Kanter Gets It”


  1. 1 Beth Kanter

    Thanks so much for featuring the video on your blog!

  2. 2 Beth Kanter

    Thanks so much for featuring the video on your blog!

  3. 3 Thobani

    -Hey GG, glad to read you are getting into Mountain Biking! For fitenss I would start working on your cardio or endurance. If your a beginner, start off by riding your bike in a flat area like a park or around the neighborhood. Get use to your bikes brakes, shifters, etc., because when you hit the dirt trails it is really different than riding on the road. You will see it is a lot harder to pedal on the trails than on the paved road. Start going to the gym and try a spin class or just start walking around your neighborhood to build up your endurance.-Remember to have the basic safety equipment. A excellent bike helmet that fits and is adjusted correctly. A pair of padded riding gloves and padded riding shorts. (You gotta have padded shorts or you will get rubbed out!) Don’t forget your eye protection and either a Hydration pack filled with water or a couple of water bottles attached to your bike.-Take it slow and get use to riding your mountian bike on the dirt trails. I bet you will get hooked on Mountain biking and end up buying a better bike! Hope this helps.

  1. 1 My 5 Fact Pitch to Save the Children | UP | uncultured project
  2. 2 Nonprofit 2.0 Reflections: Sharing Practices Around Listening and Free Agents « My Blog
  3. 3 Empathy vs. Sympathy | The Uncultured Project
  4. 4 Empathy vs. Sympathy | The Uncultured Project
  5. 5 From Riots to Aid: The Impact of the Social Lens | The Uncultured Project
  6. 6 Diversity Through Networking | The Uncultured Project

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