Updated: Feb 24, 2020
For decades the .1% have been demonized as being a major problem in the goal to eradicate poverty. However, it is time to take a hard look at reality and to stop blaming those trying to help.
Ask yourself a question. Do you know any family of ultra wealth that does not donate copious amounts of time, money, passion, and purpose to initiatives they care about? We have asked just over 500 people from all over the demographic spectrum, and to date, not a single person has said yes.
Needless to say, and based upon our personal values and virtues, we can disagree with the causes each one of us supports, however, there appears to be no doubt that families of wealth truly do help with their time and capital.
Now ask yourself a second question. Why is the poverty problem getting worse, when over the past 60 years, billions of dollars have been donated, gifted, granted etc., to millions of people purposed to eradicate poverty?
Maybe, it is simply time to play "follow the money", to see where the choke points are that prevent "Top-Down" capital from finding, funding, measuring, and scaling "Bottom-Up" innovations. (At In Place Impact, we call that find, fund, measure, scale, repeat).
There is no doubt that on many occasions, only small percentages of the capital released from the "Top", finds its way to the intended targets at the "Bottom". Our belief is that a large portion of it never makes its way passed the next 9.9% on the demographic pyramid, i.e. the sector that makes an incredible living, out of those who have made an incredible fortune, and then the subsequent 50% that includes government policy and much of the not-for-profit industry.
Further down the demographic pyramid (at the community leader level), we ourselves have been told not to "come in here and rock the boat", when we have provided free help for those living within those communities. After almost 30 years worth of work, we no longer look at the demographic pyramid being a single shape, but rather a pyramid that in of itself is made up of a myriad of smaller pyramids inside it, each with a "Top" and a "Bottom".
It is plain to see that there is no "direct line of sight" between the "Top" and the "Bottom" and that the current conduits channeling capital from one to the other have way too many choke points. Without a direct line of sight, people hold on to narratives that are not based upon fact.
One narrative that has been socialized throughout the "Bottom" is that the people in the "Top" do not care and they do nothing to help. This could not be further from the truth. One narrative that has been socialized throughout the "Top", is that the people in the "Bottom" are there because they want to be, because they are lazy, and because they want handouts. This again could not be further from the truth. Who gains from either perpetuating this narrative and allowing it to perpetuate itself?
Many people who were self made to get to the top are working on impact focused innovations to help solve the social, economic, and environmental problems we face. As opposed to "hoarding" the money, the are using their financial capital, and more importantly their intellectual capital, to design solutions. With a direct line of sight to the bottom of the socioeconomic pyramid, and the desire to work with the people residing there, they can and will effect change.
In summary, we need to stop blaming the "Top" and or the "Bottom", and focus on the choke points preventing high percentages of "Top-Down" capital from fully supporting the "Bottom-Up" innovations they target. Eradicating poverty in America has proved hard enough, if we do not remove the choke points that are hiding in plain sight, we will never succeed. The "Top" and "Bottom" need a direct line of sight to each other.