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The Best of the Humanistic and Technocratic: Why the Most Effective Work in Philanthropy Requires a Balance

This Foundation Review article highlights the need for a blended strategy and ways funders can be more effective, including:

  • As a more technocratic approach to philanthropy has emerged over the past 15 years, it has been seen as the opposite of humanistic philanthropy.
  • Rather than a dichotomy, these approaches are on a continuum.
  • The best tools from each approach can and should be brought to bear, including the well thought out and disciplined strategies and results orientation of technocrats and the values base, intuition, responsiveness, and flexibility of the humanists.
  • Staff and board leaders at foundations should articulate the humanistic-technocratic blend they desire, deliberately distill it into the organizational culture and everyday practices, and hire staff who possess multiple intelligences.
  • Philanthropic leaders need to encourage others to appreciate the tensions between the technocratic and humanistic modes, acknowledge the tradeoffs, and respect and learn from each other.
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