Blast from the recent past

This week in my social enterprise class we looked at some recent texts regarding innovative financial practices. Among the highlights: praise for cutting-edge loans that made ownership accessible to otherwise unqualified buyers while hedging risk for charitable investors.

Whoops.

Material such as this is a potent reminder of what we lose when charity merely parrots the latest trends, whether in business or government. It's not just that we're only as strong as the weakest fad--we can actually exacerbate social problems in the name of doing good.

Helping to flood the market with subprime loans isn't morally equivalent to the eugenics movement of a century ago, but the underlying pattern is the same. Charity gains support by co-opting the zeitgeist, but in so doing sacrifices its credibility as a prophetic voice.