Disproportionate Outcomes

“Give me a place to stand, and I shall move the Earth with it” — Archimedes



I spent some time with a good friend a while back. We started taliking about some philanthropy work that he and his wife are doing for children with special needs. This resonated with me, as my wife spent a number of years of her life working at a school for children with special needs. I mentioned to my friend that we were always amazed at the progress that the children could make with the right tools and assistance. At the time, we made it a habit of giving money to the school to purchase more tools (computer equipment and other learning aids). This definitely had an impact on that school and those children. 

My friend went on to say that he was giving to an educational institution, who was training students to teach children with special needs. He added, “I always try to give where there is the most leverage”. While ‘leverage’ is perhaps an overused word, his comment was the perfect example of the true application of leverage. If you train young adults to teach children with special needs, then you can probably touch hundreds or thousands of children over a reasonable period of time. By contrast, if you give tools to one school (like I have done in the past), you only impact a much smaller population of children (i.e. those that go to that school). 

Now, giving is giving and helping is helping…and there is probably no wrong way to do it. But, for me, this was a powerful lesson in leverage. 

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