What is Progressive Philanthropy and Why Does It Matter Today?

Progressive philanthropy, put as simply as possible, is the act of promoting human wellbeing through social change. Progressive philanthropists attempt to improve people’s lives by providing them with the means to eliminate the conditions that adversely affect them. For example, donations of time and money might be used to provide education and health services or to provide the ability to create a clean and safe living environment.

Progressive philanthropists attempt to eliminate economic inequalities by assisting people who lack wealth and power in improving their lives. For example, funding the development of small, local businesses provides widespread, long-term benefits to their communities through increased employment and related opportunities.

Progressive philanthropy as such has existed for half a century, although unofficially of course it has existed for much longer. The turbulent decades in the mid-1900s stimulated philanthropic foundations to consider funding new social and political groups advocating equality and justice.

Today, progressive philanthropy is practiced by both individuals and organizations who wish to create change at the source of a problem rather than merely to inject money to alleviate its symptoms. For example, FEX’s Fund for Santa Barbara works to support improved education and community organization opportunities in Santa Barbara County. This progressive philanthropic enterprise will help improve the situation of thousands of people in the area, helping them in the long run lead more successful and rewarding lives.

As you can see, progressive philanthropy can make a tremendous difference in many day-to-day lives. It strives not only to help people, but to give people the means to help themselves.