If You Want to Give Radically, Get to the Root Cause

Many of us have heard the old cliché: if you want to understand the reason for something, ask “Why?” five times. Only then will you start to really understand what is happening and the cause. This is true when it comes to how we donate to the causes we want to support.

Leah Hunt-Hendrix’s recent article in The Huffington Post makes this case. And she is right on. For instance, rather than giving mosquito nets to individuals in Africa to prevent deaths from malaria, let’s ask ourselves why malaria is still causing so many deaths. As Hunt-Hendrix asks, what are the structural, political and economic reasons? What role does the U.S. play? And what can we do about it? Figuring out the answer is not easy, and the solution – or solutions – will require a lot more work than handing out nets. But, more than likely, it will lead to substantial progress.

Don’t get me wrong. There is a strong need to fund prevention services and to offer support for treatment of all of our social issues. But until all of us – individuals, foundations, corporations – start asking why those social issues exist and how we can truly address them, we will never be able to eradicate them.

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