Category Archives: Philanthropy 411 Blog

Five Trends on the Philanthropic Horizon

Next Friday November 21 I will be giving a webinar for Philanthropy Ohio predicting five trends that are likely to affect your philanthropic practice in the next few years. Click here to register! I will write a blog about each trend in the upcoming weeks, so stay tuned. In the meantime I would love to hear your predictions for philanthropy. What trends are seeing? What predictions do you make for 2015 or 2020? Please post them in the comment section below and I will share them in a future blog post.

read more >

Who should we follow as we get started on twitter?

This blog was originally published by the National Center for Family Philanthropy on August 15, 2013.  It is reposted here with their permission. We’ve heard a lot about the potential value of Twitter for keeping connected with nonprofits and fellow grantmakers in our community. Do you have suggestions for specific Twitter feeds that our foundation staff and board member may choose to follow as we get started? New to the world of Twitter? Here is a working list of NCFP staff favorite Twitter feeds from experts in the philanthropy and nonprofit world, and NCFP friends and funders to get you started. If you’re active on twitter and think you should be listed here, send us a tweet @familygiving and we’ll

read more >

What I Learned About Customer Service from Marriott

Last week I stayed at the Marriott Marquis in downtown San Francisco, and I was blown away by the nonstop, excellent level of customer service I experienced. What I learned is applicable to foundations and consultants, and I want to share six lessons learned with you. 1. Treat everyone like they are important (even when you are busy). This convention hotel must have been booked solid, with a Salesforce convention happening one block down the street. Yet my colleague and I felt like we were the only guests at the hotel. Front desk staff were attentive, friendly, and willing to take extra time to accommodate my colleague, who was on crutches and needed certain room accommodations. All staff were prompt, cheerful, and

read more >

Increase Transparency by Broadening Your Perspective

This blog was originally written as a guest post for GlassPockets, a blog of the Foundation Center. When funders want to know about a particular issue or have questions about process, they often look first to peers and industry associations for answers. That makes perfect sense—the people who do the same job you do are likely to understand where you’re coming from and have experienced something similar. But if funders stop there, they could be selling themselves short. There are also many people who have expertise on the very issue, process, challenge or innovation that a grantmaker is pondering, but are not employed by a foundation or an industry association. These “knowledgeable outsiders” can have a great deal of valuable

read more >

Delusional Altruism

Foundations pride themselves on the good they do for others; that’s the very nature and culture of philanthropy. However, in my 15 years of experience advising foundations, I’ve found that most foundations suffer from delusional altruism. Delusional altruism is when you are genuinely trying to help people – but paying absolutely no attention to the operational inefficiency and waste that drains grantseekers or your own foundation of the human and financial capital necessary to accomplish these goals. Let me give you three examples: A foundation gives itself five weeks to approve a Request for Proposals (RFP) that it has already written, but gives grantseekers only three weeks to apply. Five different departments within a large national foundation each had a

read more >

What Are You Communicating?

Last week in Palm Beach, FL I had the wonderful opportunity to meet with and learn from 25 of the world’s top consultants, culminating in a discussion and dinner with James Carville. He advised us to clearly communicate who we are in order to stand out from the crowd and “break through the clutter.” He asked us to consider five questions: 1. What is your brand? 2. What do you stand for? 3. Are you authentic? 4. Do others say consistent things about you? 5. What can you do better than others? Coincidentally, I am currently advising a growing family foundation on the development of a communications plan. The questions James asked us as consultants are the same that funders

read more >

Uber Philanthropy

I am a recent user and fan of Uber, a new app that allows you to immediately find a car service, visually track the car, communicate with the driver, and pay remotely. It’s easy, reliable, fast, and consumer-driven. I think philanthropy leaders can learn from Uber about how to innovate for greater impact. It’s all about taking a standard practice we take for granted, turning it on its head, and radically improving the customer experience.   That’s what Uber did. We’ve all stood on street corners watching taxi after taxi drive by, wondering when and if one would ever become available. Uber took the obvious (a stressful, risky, and inefficient mode of transportation) and created a radically different customer experience (you select

read more >

3 Ways to Reduce Labor Intensity

Grantmakers, and their consultants, tend to overcomplicate things. Let me give you two simple examples of how this wastes time and prevents success. First: biweekly meetings. I’ve worked for funders who wanted me to stage biweekly meetings, for groups both large and small. In all cases, the process came before the goal: Each funder decided to have biweekly meetings before thinking about what they really wanted to accomplish. How effective the meetings were in reaching the goal was not a consideration. Second example: one-year grants. Offering a year of funding sounds fiscally responsible, since you’re checking for success before funding another year. But if you’re really likely to keep funding this organization, aren’t you being fiscally irresponsible? Think about the

read more >

Stop the Board Docket Madness

5 practical ways to reduce labor intensity, simplify work, and generate more creativity among your staff  Every year, and generally every quarter, tens of thousands of foundations and their staff go into a frenzy of activity preparing for board meetings. They prepare binders of carefully scripted summaries of the grants they’re recommending for approval. These involve layers of bureaucratic approval processes, PowerPoint presentations, page lengths, word counts, and wordsmithing. I have clients who warn me in advance that they will not be available for two full weeks before their board meeting deadlines. Then they spend another half week on the actual board meeting, and finally they spend the next week catching up on emails, voicemails, and meetings they couldn’t get

read more >

Four Strategies for Communications Planning in Grantmaking Initiatives

  Kris discusses the importance of having open, transparent communication from all participants within a grant making program. This podcast provides examples of how to implement top-down, bottom-up, inside-out and all around communication. Podcast: Play in new window | Download

read more >