By Susan Wolf DitkoffYesterday I had the privilege of spending the day with Marshall Ganz, the well-known community organizer. As he spoke eloquently about the power of stories to create social change, he also described “inhibitors” to action—inertia, apathy, fear, and isolation—among individuals who may be well-intentioned, but who can’t see a clear path forward.
Ganz didn't just talk about inhibitors to action; he discussed the antidotes too, the things that can unlock effective change—a sense of urgency, outrage, hope, and empathy. As he reminded us: These motivators aren't "touchy feely." They are prerequisites to effective problem solving; they inspire the best in us all, perhaps hope most especially.
But we needn't let the most common philanthropy traps get the better of us. We have the wisdom of the philanthropic community to help advise us, and we too have access to the antidotes—a sense of urgency to kick-start our philanthropic efforts, empathy to help us see what's needed, and outrage to keep us going when things get tough. And, of course, we have hope, which gives us our most cherished and powerful story that social change is even possible in the first place.
For more on how to overcome philanthropy traps, read "What Are the Five Most Common Traps I Should Avoid in My Philanthropy?"