Sometimes The Do-gooders Are Just As Entitled As The Rest

15/06/2016 12:13 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:54 PM AEST

I've had a job since I was ten years old. My parents never even bought me a bra. When I moved out of home before I turned 18 I had $20 a fortnight, after I paid my rent, to cover my groceries, toiletries and anything else I needed or wanted. Let's just say work ethic and independence were two of the core values in my family growing up.

I start here not to impress or seek sympathy. I'm torn between being thankful that I was raised the way I was and feeling sadness for my younger self. I start here to give some context and explanation for why I struggle so much with people who are "entitled". People who think they're superior, that the world owes them. People who hold the power and the money, through no skill or hard work of their own, yet call the shots.

In my work, I see more than my fair share of entitled people. But interestingly I have come to realise entitlement sits on both sides of the spectrum.

There is of course the wealthy – especially those blind to the dynamics that swirl around money and power – who often have entitlement coming out of their pores, as previously described.

But the sense of entitlement in the social sector is just as bad. I meet many of the not-for-profits and social entrepreneurs type whose sense of entitlement is cloaked in passive aggressive behaviour and soaked in the attitude that says "I'm doing good, so people should give me money." Philanthropy - and grant reliance - has in fact made people entitled.

Both versions of entitlement are unhelpful and both leave a bad taste in my mouth.

Paul Steele, my friend and co-founder of both TDi and Benefit Capital, says: "If you feel you need to give back you probably took too much in the first place!" In so many situations that cheeky statement rings true.

In the social sector I see projects and individuals, who either have no track record or whose track record demonstrates their inability to deliver, be handed massive amounts of money on the promise of delivering positive social or environmental outcomes.

Many social service providers have traditionally sourced funding through grants and thus have little experience developing and managing revenue-generating entities. And I have watched the same people and organisations waste the money and opportunity given to them time and again.

The reality is, despite our very best efforts and intentions, the current approaches to business and philanthropy fail to deliver either the social outcomes we desire, or a sustainable method of funding.

This is going to be a difficult pill to swallow for many, but it is time to accept that the charity, traditional aid and philanthropy models as we know them are unfortunately not going to solve the world's problem. If they were, then the range of complex social and environmental challenges we face would be solved by now.

And just like it is time power dynamics shift away from those who hold the cash calling all the shots, it is time for those in the social sector to stop acting as if the world owes them something.

In this election cycle maybe it's time we reinstate one of the Coalitions old slogans "The age of entitlement is over." But instead of using it to beat up on the most vulnerable members of society, that slogan should be aimed at holding accountable the wealthy and those in the social sector whose mission is to serve specific beneficiary groups.

Let's not focus on what we don't have, or what we could do if we had more. Whether you're a social sector organisation or a high net worth individual, if you're doing as much as you can with the resources and capacity you have then you get the thumbs up from me.

We can all do better, we can all do more. Not by waiting till we have more money or more power, but with the resources and capacity we already have. It's time we all lift our game.

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