Privilege is a Blind Spot that We Need to Recognize and Confront to do Philanthropy Well

Published on The Huffington Post
By Kathleen P. Enright – President and CEO, Grantmakers for Effective Organization

We all have blind spots. Our blind spots may cause us to change lanes when it isn’t safe to do so or ignore a pattern of negative behavior from a loved one that is obvious to others. Regardless, blind spots impair our judgment in meaningful ways. For many in philanthropy, privilege is a blind spot.

“Privilege” often refers to wealth, but other aspects of privilege might be a bit harder to identify and therefore harder to address—like being socially advantaged merely based on your gender, the country of birth, sexual orientation or the color of your skin.

By their nature, donors are people of economic privilege (though some did not grow up in those conditions). Many of us with careers in philanthropy also come from various forms of privilege or at least experience it now.  Yet for centuries, privileged people have engaged in philanthropy that is, at times, less than effective. It’s clear that — in order to do philanthropy well — we must recognize and confront privilege.

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