As a (very small) social enterprise, at Lerario Photos we do support charity organizations — specially the small, local ones created within the community in which they act — and, when working for underserved communities and underprivileged people, we do provide our services for free. But we no longer believe in charity, at least not as we know it today.
We are convinced that — apart that in some very exceptional circumstances, as sudden conflicts or natural disasters — it brings more damage than benefit and, after many years in the sector of humanitarian operations, we believe that is necessary to explore new ways.
We are not alone in this: a constantly increasing number of people who work on the field have reached the same conclusion: this system just does not work and cannot solve the problem at its root.
Society’s non-profit ethic acts as a strict regulatory mechanism on the natural economic law. This creates an economic apartheid that denies the non-profit sector critical tools and permissions that the for-profit sector is allowed to use without restraint (e.g., no risk-reward incentives, no profit, counterproductive limits on compensation, and moral objections to the use of donated euros for anything other than program expenditures).
It’s time for a new operating system. Not a 2.0 or a 3.0, but something built from the ground up. New code. What we have is a crisis of imagination. Albert Einstein said that you cannot solve a problem with the same mind-set that created it
— Peter Buffet
These double-standards place the non-profit sector at extreme disadvantage to the for profit sector on every level. While the for-profit sector is permitted to use all the tools of capitalism to advance the sale of consumer goods, the non-profit sector is prohibited from using any of them to fight poverty, hunger or disease. In practice, capitalism is blamed for creating the inequities in our society, but charity is prohibited from using the tools of capitalism to rectify them.
This is all done in the name of charity, but it is a charity whose principal benefit flows to the for-profit sector and one that denies the non-profit sector the tools and incentives that have built virtually everything of value in society. The very ethic we have cherished as the hallmark of our compassion is in fact what undermines it.
This irrational system has its roots in 400-year-old Puritan ethics that banished self-interest from the realm of charity. And that is the biggest hypocrisy.
Just scratch underneath the surface and you can see a system — the industry of charity and the business of solidarity — that seems to exist to keep and fatten itself. That ideology is policed and certified today by watchdog agencies (controlled by not so innocent governments) and the use of “efficiency” measures, which are flawed, unjust, and should be abandoned.
We believe that only by declaring their independence from these obsolete ideas the underserved communities in the world — as well as all those who genuinely believe in the words equality, fraternity and freedom — can dramatically accelerate progress on the most urgent social issues of our time.