Systemic change is on everyone’s lips in 2020.  Pushed to the background, progress on climate action remains woefully slow. Wealth inequality continues to rise. Gender parity appears unlikely to happen for a hundred years. Black people keep dying in police custody.

So, let’s go a step further here and discuss in practical terms what exactly should be done, how, and why it hasn’t been done so far in the first place. The Altruist League recently published a research piece, based on a 23-country study of global grassroots activist sentiment, trying to answer those questions, with a particular focus on what philanthropy can do to help along real change.

Philanthropy has supported systemic change successfully in the past. The Ford Foundation’s backing of the civil rights movement from the 1950s onwards is an oft-quoted example.

However, a problem for many aspiring change-makers has always been the fact that true change is complex and long term.

Real change is a fascinating, uplifting phenomenon that philanthropy can accelerate significantly. But it is at the same time a very difficult sell. It urges us to be out there and do research, rather than sit and wait for proposals to come. It challenges us to add real value, adopt new portfolio-building approaches and develop trust-based partnerships. And even then, our initiatives may fail miserably. All that we have in return is the feeling of doing something profoundly meaningful – that and those special moments when you can watch a society advance in seemingly real time. What “should be done” about the problems of our day is therefore not a mystery; we merely need enough funders out there willing and able to do it.

Read the full article about funding for systemic change by Milos Maricic at World Economic Forum.