Summary of Small Change

Why Business Won't Save the World

Berrett-Koehler, more...

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Small Change book summary
Businesspeople seek profit. Social activists seek change. Find out how they can – and can’t – work together.


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Popular wisdom says that nonprofit entities could achieve reform and efficiency best by acting like for-profits, and that being businesslike is the finest all-purpose path for organizations addressing the world’s problems. Social activist Michael Edwards disagrees. In this thoughtful, articulate argument, he enumerates – without ever slipping into polemic – the pitfalls in that line of thinking. He explains how nonprofits develop their own methods, and how vulnerable their processes are to inflexible thinking. He discusses with clarity and rigor the likely role business tactics could play in solving pressing issues, and he examines how capitalism and philanthropy do and do not work together. At first, this fascinating discussion seems contrarian, but it gains common sense as it goes along. getAbstract highly recommends this book to those who want to know how capitalism and philanthropy unite, to those who are interested in changing the world (or even the street) and, of course, to anyone with billions who wants to shift the social dynamic.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why most business practices are not appropriate for nonprofits
  • What philanthrocapitalism is
  • How business and charities can work apart – and together


“Philanthrocapitalism” – Marrying Philanthropy and Business
This is the age of philanthrocapitalism, when business leaders insist that nonprofits should be run like for-profit firms. Donors want control of a charity’s policies in exchange for their funds. Well-compensated CEOs leave their...
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About the Author

Michael Edwards, a writer and activist, works with the think tank Demos and the Wagner School of Public Service at New York University.

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