Omar Brownson: The Next Generation of Philanthropy
September 25, 2012
For the next generation of philanthropists, I don’t think they’re going to ask themselves whether or not they should work in the private, public, or non-profit sector. They’re going to wake up each day and ask themselves what impact am I going to make today.
The traditional model of a successful career and life was divided into three phases: we learn, earn, and then return. We went to school, got a job (and kept it for decades), and then at the end of our life we gave back from the fruits of labor.
Now, we can pursue both purpose and profit. There is a convergence between money and meaning throughout one’s life. For philanthropy this means that donors no longer are passive supporters, but are more engaged in creating the means of change they seek in the world. Donor circles, social entrepreneurship, impact investing, corporate social responsibility, crowd-sourcing are examples of this convergence.
My own career has spanned private equity investing, affordable housing, chairing the board of a community foundation, and now large-scale, place-based change centered around the 51-miles of the Los Angeles River. My goal has always been to be on the side of initiating change regardless of what sector I was in. Crossing sectors and building bridges has allowed me to focus on creating change today and not wait for tomorrow. The continued convergence of sectors will allow the next generation of philanthropists to focus even more on impact and not artificial distinctions between money and meaning.
Executive Director, LA River Revitalization Corporation
Member, Food Policy Council
Advisory Board Member, REDF
Former Chairman and Board Member, Liberty Hill Foundation
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