Philanthropy – resist the urge to become charity

The devastation and misery on the East Coast will cause many philanthropic organizations to consider doing something for disaster relief. This is only natural as the desire to deploy resources to alleviate human suffering in the driving motivation behind what we all do. Resist. Philanthropy is not charity. Palliative acts (e.g.feeding the hungry) are not the same as alleviating the root causes of problems. Rather than giving to charity – consider what the philanthropic approach might be. How can we better be prepared and respond to natural disasters. One question that comes up for me is the great enthusiasm I have seen for incentivising people to increasingly live in large urban centers (anti-suburban sprawl moevments are part of this, as are green transportation efforts, etc). I worry that we have not put enough thought into what happens to mega-cities when disaster strikes. There appears to be a special fragility to perturbations evidenced when large, densely populated “corridors” meet with natural or man-made disasters. Maybe sprawl in not the answer – but I think my preference for living is a small to medium sized town with transparent local governance. Now – funding research on this question and providing un-boased data for planners – now that might be a good investment for philantropy!