Leverage the privilege

Mark PetersenWealth

A recent article by Elise Westhoff in the National Review highlights how philanthropy is increasingly fueling division as capitalism and its fruits are under attack. With heavy media attention on Musk, Bezos, and Zuckerberg and their obscene wealth and power, all of capitalism becomes suspect. But let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Many philanthropy leaders now insist, says Westhoff, that “our industry must turn ‘from generosity to justice,’ which includes ‘reforming’ capitalism and confronting ‘privilege.’ The subtext is that philanthropy must replace broad-based empowerment with left-wing advocacy.” Unfortunately, philanthropy that follows this alluring path is biting the hand that feeds it. Entrepreneurial vision, hard work, and taking on massive risk has rewarded those innovators with significant wealth that is the very capital by which philanthropy exists to facilitate a generous response.

As someone who benefits from a privileged position, my counsel is this: Don’t erase or give up your privilege. It’s a positive thing, and a gift to be enjoyed. But don’t stop there. In your abundance, make every effort to leverage your privilege: Be a staunch ally for those without a voice, and be exceedingly generous to those in need. I’m grateful I’ve got a front-row seat to observe our clients and many other generous people doing just that.