Lisa Miller profiles Brandon Stanton and explores the evolution of and the power imbalances inherent in “Humans of New York,” which Stanton has recently turned into a grant-giving operation, going beyond images and words on social media to offer financial assistance to those he profiles.

Stanton has raised nearly $8 million over the past 18 months for, among others, a retired burlesque dancer ($2.7 million), the immigrant owners of an organic bakery with a chronically ill child ($1.2 million), a man blinded by a screwdriver in a subway attack ($677,000), and a woman undergoing breast-cancer treatment who was behind on her rent ($498,000).