I believe Philanthropy is not about giving money but about
solving problems. This is at least the philosophy we follow at the
Financial Policy Council
I also believe a philanthropist should think like an entrepreneur
and think of social challenges as an opportunity to create large
It’s really easy to create a $1 billion company–you just have to
solve a $10 billion problem.
Most of these large $10 to $100 billion problems happen to be
That’s why I think that some of the largest opportunity exist for
an entrepreneur in solving humanity’s grand challenges.
True philanthropy requires a disruptive mindset, innovative
thinking and a philosophy driven by entrepreneurial insights and
To disrupt the statusquo, drive philanthropy at tremendous
scale, and develop long-term economic vitality through giving,
we must apply the same models for successin our philanthropic
endeavors as we do in business.
As a lifelong entrepreneur and financier, I see philanthropic
organizations the same as any other business venture.
Much like today’s start-upsthat accept VC money but never turn
a profit, a philanthropic venture that does not create a self-
monetizing, sustainable financial model will ultimately fail.
In short, philanthropy requires disruption.
This disruptive mindset hinges on a practice I call
EntrepreneurialPhilanthropy, which is designed to support
innovation that creates sustainable, thriving economies in
Further, it requires the utilization of several principles rooted in
A venture that’s not profitable is not sustainable. Philanthropic
funds should be treated as venture capital that should only be
used to bootstrap a business and to scale the business once the
businessmodel has been proven on a smaller scale.
Truly disruptive philanthropic endeavors, much like business
ventures, need to think big, targeting tremendouslylarge
markets and opportunities.
Solving a problem in the millions will never catapult your
businessinto the league of billions.
In other words, if you want to create a company worth $1 billion,
you must solve a $10 billion problem.
There are many philanthropists and volunteers who act locally,
giving tirelessly, donating their time and money to help the sick,
poor and other individuals most in need.
But why stop there?
Philanthropic work on the local level is wonderful, but time and
again it has proven incapable of reaching the scale we need to
foster economic development and leading to the monumental
changes we all seek.
Scalable Solution for Global Markets
To do that, we need scale. If we go into a philanthropic endeavor
afraid of successon the largest of scales, we do that cause no
This requires rethinking the solution and the problem, which
generally requires us to convert infrastructure problems into
information-gap problems. Our job, indeed our collective goal, is
to bridge that gap.
Educationfor example should not be about maintaining a system
that dates back to the industrial revolution.
We can achieve so much more, at unmatched scale with
software and interactive learning.
Similarly, think about the healthcare diagnostics we can address
through connectedsensors and artificial intelligence without the
need for expensive, out-of-date physical infrastructure like
Build Great Teams
While most philanthropists tend to flock together and build their
teams around friends, family, or others who happen to be
retired or with a lot of free time on their hands,
a great entrepreneur knows that success is directly related to the
quality and talents of their team.
We cannot just partner with whoever might be available or
share our passion during their retirement.
Successfulventures in business or philanthropy are built around
great teams who can help us overcome tremendous challenges–
and have the right experiences and relationships to do so.
EntrepreneurialPhilanthropy is not just a philosophy or a dream.
It is a promise that philanthropy is at its best when it is founded
on entrepreneurial zest and agility.
Investors are right to demand a clear path to self-sustainability
from every business they invest in, and I believe we should ask
for the same from philanthropy.
Indeed, there is a direct correlation between fulfilling peoples’
needs as a successfulentrepreneur and as a philanthropist.
This is why the work of entrepreneurial philanthropists has a
compoundingimpact that reverberates far beyond the reaches
of charity, aid and relief efforts.
Money can certainly solve some of the world’s problems, but
without an entrepreneurial bent it will only merit short-lived
solutions to long-term problems
Follow Ziad K Abdelnour @