4 best practices for effectively partnering with other funders Philanthropists often expect nonprofits to collaborate, but they less frequently turn that expectation on themselves. Yet there is tremendous opportunity to exponentially expand the impact of your grantmaking through funder collaboration. Foundations and individual philanthropists can collaborate with all types of entities, including other local, state or national foundations; donor-advised funds; businesses; universities; other individuals; funder networks; government agencies; and nonprofits, to name just a few. No matter whom you choose to join in collaboration, there are four things you can do to ensure that collaboration will be a success. The four best practices for effectively partnering with other funders: Communicate early and often. Lack of communication can prevent your funding collaborative … Continue reading How To Make Your Funder Collaboration A Success
Practice Transformational Giving with Courage and Creativity Ask almost anyone even vaguely familiar with philanthropy what a foundation does, and the answer will likely be “they give money away.” That’s true, but what if instead the go-to answer was: “They improve people’s lives,” or “They transform communities,” or even, “They make a difference you can see and our community wouldn’t be the same without them”? In general, checkbook philanthropy is great at addressing needs, but not so effective when it comes to solving the problems that create the need. For example, supporting a homeless shelter is a great way to meet the needs of those in crisis, but what if we addressed the issues that caused them to become homeless … Continue reading Beyond the Checkbook: The Power of Transformational Giving
Tackle these 6 common challenges to pick up speed. In grantmaking, it is always important to eliminate unnecessary steps and streamline our grant processes. Streamlining strengthens our foundations, creates more effective strategies and supports efficiencies for our grantees. But just as important as streamlining your foundation is understanding why our processes can become bogged down in the first place. Philanthropy isn’t the only field that can be slow when it comes to strategy. Any corporation or department of government faces the same struggles in trying to remain responsive to current conditions. The best way to pick up speed when it comes to strategy is to face these six common challenges head on: 1. Fear Fear is the No. 1 reason work slows … Continue reading Why Foundation Strategy Moves Slowly
Spot and change behaviors that undermine your own altruistic goals. Delusional altruism is rampant in the philanthropic sector. I coined the term “Delusional Altruism®” to describe situations in which a funder is genuinely trying to make a difference on the issues and communities it cares about—while paying absolutely no attention to how it may be getting in its own way, nor to the operational inefficiency and waste that drains both the donor and grantees of the human and financial capital necessary to accomplish their goals. It can be difficult for funders to recognize when they’re engaging in delusional altruism. Because of this, I’ve created the online Delusional Altruism Diagnostic that allows funders to rate their performance based on 10 manifestations … Continue reading 10 Ways To Overcome Delusional Altruism In Your Philanthropy
Take a deep breath, stay focused and follow these steps. September means we are quickly approaching the end of 2018, and the race is on to accomplish all of our goals for the year. There are less than 70 working days left until the end of the year, depending on how many holidays you celebrate. Even fewer if, like me, you take off the last half of December. That doesn’t sound like a lot of time to accomplish your year-end goals, does it?! If you find yourself overwhelmed and unable to enjoy the return of scarves, pumpkins and crisp fall air, don’t fret. There really is still plenty of time to meet your goals before 2019 arrives. Take some deep … Continue reading Three Tips to Help You Accomplish Your Year-End Goals
Why philanthropic giving is a smart investment tool for business. Socially conscious investors are after more than just financial returns. In addition to making money in the markets, we also want to make a difference. We want to leave a legacy of not just wealth but positive change. However, in our quest to be socially conscious change creators, we often overlook the power of one key asset: our philanthropy. For most people, philanthropy is the money we give away when we’re finished investing and earning in other areas. It’s a separate category — not just on our tax returns or financial planning documents, but also in our heads. The idea that one makes money first, then gives it away is … Continue reading Philanthropy — The Forgotten Investment Asset
I just got back from my family’s annual month-long vacation to Chautauqua Institution, New York. In between long walks with my husband, taking our kids boating on Lake Chautauqua, and countless dinner parties with friends, I was retained by three new clients, booked a speaking engagement, became a “practical advice” content partner to Alliance Magazine (the leading magazine for the global philanthropic sector), and was asked to be the new “international expert on strategic philanthropy” for an online European philanthropy news outlet (more on that in the coming months). Sounds like a pretty productive vacation, right?! I’m often asked by my advising and coaching clients how they can create a better “work-life balance.” And I share the advice I’ve learned … Continue reading Get a Life
Determine which approach to grantmaking works best for your foundation In philanthropy, there is much written about responsive and strategic approaches to philanthropy. Which approach is the most appropriate? Meaningful? Effective? Grantmakers have many roles to play in a community, and how they define those roles can vary greatly, so it’s important for foundations to understand both strategic and responsive options to determine which approach may be preferable. Responsive grantmaking is being open to receiving proposals and ideas from any nonprofit and allowing the nonprofits to drive the agenda. Requests are initiated by the nonprofit, rather than by a funder seeking them out. This doesn’t mean that a foundation doesn’t have core areas of focus, but it does mean that within … Continue reading Responsive vs. Strategic Grantmaking: Which One is Right for You?
6 Questions to Regularly Ask Yourself and Your Partners Most philanthropies seek to be strategic and have an impact. Yet few build their own internal capacity to be strategic grantmakers. In particular, most funders forget to intentionally learn from their initial piloting and testing of strategies so that they can make early modifications and course corrections. Learning isn’t hard to do, but it must be intentional, documented, discussed within your team, and it must lead to decision making. It can’t simply exist inside a program officer’s head. One of our clients asks themselves, “What will make or break this grant?” when deciding whether to recommend a significant grant to their board. They are clear on the risks involved and what … Continue reading Are You Really Learning and Improving?
Engage more deeply in learning about the issues you address and the places you serve. Effective grantmaking rarely happens if grantmakers spend all their time behind their desks. Solving intractable problems requires that funders have a true understanding of the issue, a range of partners to join in the work and an ability to continually learn from collective actions and apply that learning to ongoing efforts. None of these three things is possible if funders don’t get out of their offices and into their communities, face-to-face, on a regular basis. Here are four reasons for grantmakers to leave the office and break out of the bubble: 1. You learn more than if you’d stayed in the office. Imagine a program officer … Continue reading Leave The Office And Break Out Of Your Bubble