Rolls-Royce Radicals

Responsible Wealth, a Boston-based nonprofit, is convincing many affluent Americans to challenge the very rules that made them rich. Far from mere check writers or “limousine liberals,” these wealthy activists work against their self-interest to stamp out inequality at its source: unfair laws and policies. Their unique strategy of using privilege to contest privilege not only has attracted the rich and famous to their ranks, but also has bent the ears of senators and CEOs.

At the modest offices of Responsible Wealth, a Boston-based nonprofit, Mike Lapham stops at a bulletin board covered with clippings and notices. Lapham, the organization’s co-director, points out a favorite cartoon, in which one pipe-puffing gentleman says to the other, “I used to ask myself what I could do to help my fellow man, but I couldn’t think of anything that wouldn’t put me to considerable inconvenience.”

Responsible Wealth’s goal is to counteract the mind-set that this cartoon...

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