storm wavesIn her superb essay What Money Can Buy, from the June 4, 2016 edition of The New Yorker, Larissa MacFarquhar opens by splaying the forces that rise up from all directions to impede change:

“The urge to change the world is normally thwarted by a near-insurmountable barricade of obstacles: failure of imagination, failure of courage, bad governments, bad planning, incompetence, corruption, fecklessness, the laws of nations, the laws of physics, the weight of history, inertia of all sorts, psychological unsuitability on the part of the would-be changer, the resistance of people who would lose from the change, the resistance of people who would benefit from it, the seduction of activities other than world-changing, lack of practical knowledge, lack of political skill, and lack of money. Lack of money is a stubborn obstacle, but not as hopelessly unyielding as some of the others …”

Formidable indeed.

Seasoned leaders can share countless stories and battle scars attesting to such forces. Through wars won and lost, enduring leaders hone their skills with each successive encounter.

MacFarquhar’s article is a must-read for people on both sides of the grant making equation, and for anyone interested in how philanthropy shape-shifted across eras of U.S. history.