I was just reading the Jill Lepore’s article in The New Yorker titled “Baby Doe,” which chronicles the history of the child welfare system in the United States. In it, she quotes someone who says, “There is a monotony about the injustices suffered by the poor that perhaps accounts for the lack of interest the rest of society shows in them.”
That resonates deeply with me. And it’s why it’s so important to get out of the office, build rapport with potential grantees, and dig in enough to see what is actually happening on the ground level. If we don’t, we risk unintentionally forgetting the intensity of the problems we’re trying to solve via philanthropy, and when we forget, we become desensitized to them. When we’re desensitized, we’re put at risk of losing the judgment we need to select grantees who can make the most difference.