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A Generous Difference — vivian Hutchinson

A Generous Difference — vivian Hutchinson

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... creating a better partnership between social entrepreneurs and philanthropy.
... creating a better partnership between social entrepreneurs and philanthropy.

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Published by: How Communities Heal on Oct 31, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/12/2014

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how
 
communities
 
heal
 
 / The New Zealand Social Entrepreneur Fellowship
1
“ And praise will come to those whose kindnessleaves you without debt and bends the shape of thingsthat haven’t happened yet.” — Neil Finn, “Faster Than Light” 
I have lived most of my working life
within a social economy. Myfnancial ability to run programmes and to oster innovations hascome rom an economy which is at the edge o our national economicconsciousness, and yet it is at the heart o our amily and communitylives. This is an economy that says the starting point or addressingour most pressing social and environmental needs — is our generosity.
Sometimes I have been unded to do my work through various government departments,or rom local authority or council contracts. At other times my projects have received und-ing rom dierent philanthropic oundations, or the community banking trusts. But when Ihave wanted to create a real innovation, I have not always been successul in going to thesemainstream institutions or fnancial support.There are many reasons or this, and most are to do with the way trust boards set priori-ties amidst a genuine shortage o unds in the social sector. But there is oten much more toit than this. Innovation, by defnition includes embracing change and exploring the new. Yetgrant-making by boards and unding agencies is more commonly addressed with a view torisk management and avoiding potential embarrassment.A consequence o this is that most social innovators tend to personally live a airlyprecarious fnancial existence. It is not unusual or the social entrepreneur to end up takingconsiderable personal and amily risks in order to gather the resources they need to pursuethe innovations they see possible.
A GENEROUSDIFFERENCE
 
vivian
 
hutchinson
 
 / A Generous Dierence
2This is something that is not just unique to social entrepreneurship. I have met many busi-ness entrepreneurs who have been compelled to take signifcant levels o personal fnancialrisk beore commercial unders will come along and get involved with the enterprise.The
 generative
stage — when ideas are researched, shaped, tested and prototyped — isa particularly dicult time to get unding. Lending or granting institutions are just not com-ortable with ailure, and they want to see the entrepreneur remove as much risk as possiblebeore they make a commitment. Consequently, it is not unusual or social or business entre-preneurs to get their initial start-up unding rom their own savings, or rom riends andamily.In my own case, the money which has enabled me to create new projects has sometimescome rom the surpluses accumulated rom earlier successul initiatives. But more oten thannot, the start-up money has come rom “creative” public servants (… who are oten operat-ing below the radar o their managers or politicians), or rom individual philanthropists (…whohave oten done so against the advice o their oundations), or rom my riends.This money is quite dierent, because it comes with a whole dierent sense o
trust 
. Italso comes with an implicit relationship that says, “I share your intentions here. None o us aretoo sure about whether it will succeed or ail, but I’ll share that risk … go or it.”For an innovator, this sort o support that is the most valuable, because it is space-making.Within this space o trust it is more possible to reach beyond the cynicism, sel-interests andactional bargaining o popular culture — and listen or the voice and strategies o a commongood.Neil Finn’s song
“Faster Than Light” 
speaks to me o the generosity that creates sucha space, especially where he describes the
“… kindness that leaves you without debt” 
and
bends the shape of things that haven’t happened yet.” 
 This kindness-without-debt is what makes a generous dierence. And I would neverunderestimate this dierence — it is usually one o the frst links in the chain o events thatleads to the practical solutions and the undamental changes we are looking or.All the major religious traditions have recognised the importance o philanthropy increating the communities we want to live in. And it is worth remembering that the word phi-lanthropy comes rom Greek roots which literally mean the love o man. The derivation o thisword does not mention money at all.It is important to keep this in mind, because the concept o philanthropy in our culture hasbecome so associated with grant-making and oundations that we oten orget these deeperand more universal roots. In the light o this original defnition, we get to recognise that thebasic motivation behind almost every social entrepreneur is their own
 philanthropy 
.It is a curious thing that groups o people who have taken the name and the legal struc-ture o “Trust”, oten fnd it very dicult to have an authentic conversation with one anotherabout the nature o
trust 
, and about that ace o generosity which builds on that trust and isan expression o our kindness, and our love or each other and the earth.Instead, we fnd ourselves at trust board meetings wrapping our hearts in the languageo the marketplace — perhaps so the purpose o our hearts can have
currency 
in this day
 
how
 
communities
 
heal
 
 / The New Zealand Social Entrepreneur Fellowship
3and age. We speak o “social capital”, “social auditing”, “eciencies”, “marketing”, “undrais-ing”, “stakeholders” and “donor needs” … and while doing so, our
 philanthropy 
is reduced tobecoming the “business” o giving money away.When the New Zealand Social Entrepreneur Fellowship was established, it was backedby a coalition o philanthropists, grant-makers and community leaders who took the nameo the Social Innovation Investment Group. The group was seen as an opportunity or theseleaders to learn more about social innovation and entrepreneurship by getting to know someo New Zealand’s leading practitioners.This group o “social investors” was led by its questions:
How can we look anew at our  grant-making processes? How can we be wiser and more eective in supporting and sustain-ing social innovation?
 Many philanthropists have spoken about how their grant-making is motivated by a prin-ciple o
“giving back” 
— a way that they can personally return something to the society thathas enabled them to become successul. This is an attitude that underpins much o society’sview o charitable purposes, but it is also a perspective that can be seen as paternalistic andlimiting.The grant-makers involved in the Social Innovation Investment Group were interestedin a dierent conversation. They recognised that the job o unding real innovation requiresa dierent type o generosity — one that involves getting a whole lot wiser about
“givingforward” 
.One o the key contributors to the establishment o the Social Innovation InvestmentGroup was Jenny Gill, the chie executive o the ASB Community Trust and ormerly chairo Philanthropy New Zealand. Gill has become well known or her advocacy o philanthropyas the “venture capital or social change” in democratic societies and she’s had a long track-record o supporting a more venturesome approach to grant-making.Her philanthropic mentor, the late Sir Roy McKenzie, was inspirational in his own approachto supporting social innovation. McKenzie certainly practiced the art o
“giving forward” 
, andhe gave some o the frst grants ever received in New Zealand by such groups as the wom-ens reuge, the hospice movement, Kohanga Reo, social workers in schools, disabled sportsand Outward Bound.
Kate Frykberg (Todd Foundation) and  Jenny Gill (ASB Community Trust)with John Stanseld in a “threads of connection” workshop session at the NZSEF retreat.

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