I have to admit, I was excited when I saw Bill Clinton and “The Power of Philanthropy” on the front cover of Fortune. It seems businesses are dipping their toes more and more into philanthropy, which is great to see. Clinton uses more than a few tips from business in his philanthropy work. There were actually three great articles regarding philanthropy in the issue:

 

 

  1. The Power of Philanthropy (Clinton article)
  2. The Legend of Robin Hood (how the hedge fund world is banding together to fight poverty)
  3. Force for Change (Salesforce’s philosophy regarding philanthropy)

I’ll focus on the Clinton story for the time being. What a great story- left the President’s office $10 million in debt, but has turned around and made $30 million from speeches and received a $10 million advance on his book while serving the public good all along. Clinton’s aid, Doug Band, mentions Clinton’s “…ability to motivate people and move mountains.” It is largely due to his presence that things get done. His foundations have attacked several very large issues, including HIV/AIDS, child obesity, and Hurricane Katrina (via the Bush-Clinton Katrina fund). In the article, Clinton says, “We have very entrepreneurial people and a very entrepreneurial process. We identify a problem, we analyze it, and we move.” That’s a great process from a business perspective.

I really admire Clinton for the great work he has done in the philanthropy field since he served as President. The article wasn’t all positive, but should have been. In the article, Michelle Simon (founder of the Center for Informed Food Choices) says, “I’m not surprised that Bill Clinton would do something to grab the spotlight” and it was also mentioned that “Clinton’s beverage deal has already come under fire from a wide range of activists, lawyers, and academics, who say he simply swiped the groundwork laid by a grass-roots movement.” Furthermore, the common criticisms of Clinton are cited in the article-

His foundation is just a way to keep the cameras and the crowds coming. He’s just doing it to help his wife. He overpromises and underdelivers. He grabs credit for the work of others. He’s searching for redemption. There’s probably some truth to all of them.

But, you know what? Who cares if there is truth in all of his criticisms? At least he is trying to help those less fortunate than himself. If he was playing golf everyday, drinking, and gambling his money away, THEN I can see others having a reason to complain. It would be great if people would stop wasting time taking shots at people like Clinton and instead focus that effort on their own initiatives. One of the largest problems that I see with current politics is that people would rather talk than act. Wow, this relates very well to Braveheart. Anyways, think of how many times you hear politicians making speeches about what we shouldn’t have done or the mistakes others have made. All you politicians out there- please take a hint from Charles Barkley and just shut the hell up. Stop worrying about what others are doing and worry about what YOU are doing. Stand up for what you believe. Quit worrying about what the public thinks of you. It shouldn’t be a popularity contest. The world needs people like Clinton to lead them and attack the large problems that face this world today. People should be embracing his efforts, not taking cheap shots at him.

I really encourage you to read the whole article. I assure you it will be time well-spent.