Category Archives: consulting

From Well Done to What’s Next

As some of you may have noticed, I recently was inducted into the Million Dollar Consultant® Hall of Fame by my own mentor and advisor, Alan Weiss, Ph.D. This honor was especially gratifying – not because of the fanfare but because, just like most people, I like to know that the work I’ve put into something (in this case, my consulting practice) has paid off. Over the last decade, I’ve invested hours of my time and a good amount of my own money in my personal professional development, striving to become the most effective and valuable philanthropy advisor I can be. I’ve learned one-on-one from top global consultants, improved my consulting practice by honing in on key strengths and opportunities, … Continue reading From Well Done to What’s Next

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Ten Ways Putnam Consulting Got It Right in 2016

Producing the Confident Giving newsletter is one my favorite things to do – in no small part because of readers like you who open, peruse, consider, and sometimes comment and share your thoughts with me. Thank you! As a weekly publication, Confident Giving covers a lot of ground in a single year. In January it’s always interesting to take a look back at the topics that attracted our readers the most. I’m happy to share 2016’s top 10 most read topics below. And if there’s something you’d like to hear more of in 2017, please let me know! 1.  The Next Four Years: Keep Moving Forward Before the 2016 election, our country was in a totally different place than it … Continue reading Ten Ways Putnam Consulting Got It Right in 2016

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Don’t Believe the “Complexifiers”

In my first attempt to hire my own financial advisor in my late 20s, I turned to Morgan Stanley in San Francisco. I interviewed two people.  One had a slide show presentation and overflowing binders of charts and graphs showing me how they informed his decisions, his track record, how this and that outperformed that and the other. I had little idea as to what he was talking about but I figured he must have known his stuff because he could prove it on an XY axis. The second person, a woman, looked at me straight in the eye and said “This is not all that complicated.” I was shocked. How could it not be complicated? I didn’t understand it. … Continue reading Don’t Believe the “Complexifiers”

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Get Back Out There!

I hope you’ve had a great summer. Vacations, plenty of pool time, a little rest and relaxation — and lots of playing outside. Now it’s time to hunker down and get back in that office to get things done, right? Wrong. In my opinion, one of the last places a grantmaker should be is in the office. As foundation staff and trustees, we want to see solutions to community problems. There’s no way to create those solutions without getting out there and forging multiple connections. And there are few people better suited to building those connections than those of us who work in the philanthropic world. Building connections isn’t something you can do behind a desk. You need to get … Continue reading Get Back Out There!

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Collected Wisdom for Grantmakers

This week, instead of sharing one point of wisdom, I’d like to share many – 46 of them, in fact. That’s how many entries you’ll find in my newly published book, Confident Giving: Sage Advice for Funders. Why write a book? While a blog is great for sharing advice and helpful content in small, quick bursts of content, it also helps to have wisdom collected all in one place. This is true for just about any topic. As a parent, I value little pearls of wisdom I’ve picked up here and there from friends and relatives, but there’s a reason why Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care is one of the top-selling books of all time. As a consultant, I use … Continue reading Collected Wisdom for Grantmakers

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Learning How to Learn

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, the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, 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 needs to happen … Continue reading Learning How to Learn

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8 Tools Grantmakers Frequently Forget to Use

When most people think about philanthropy, it’s all about the money. But cold, hard cash is just one of many tools in a grantmaker’s tool belt. And some of those non-cash tools are far more effective when it comes to addressing grantee needs and community challenges. Here are eight tools grantmakers can – and should – use more often: Connections – Who are the people you know, and how could you make introductions or referrals for your grantees? If you’re like most people, you probably have a broader list of contacts than you realize. Don’t be afraid to use it. Think about the other funders, accountants, attorneys, consultants, government employees, and nonprofit leaders you’ve met. How could these people help … Continue reading 8 Tools Grantmakers Frequently Forget to Use

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Kris Putnam-Walkerly Named “Top 25 Philanthropy Speaker”

This week, I’m taking a quick time-out from my regular blog posts to share some exciting news. I am honored to have been named one of America’s Top 25 Philanthropy Speakers by Philanthropy Media! I was chosen from a survey of more than 25,000 philanthropy experts who submitted more than 1,000 names. To say I was surprised is an understatement. I’m both thrilled and humbled to share this news with you. What’s best about this news is that I truly love speaking about philanthropy and helping philanthropic audiences understand how to do the work of grantmaking more efficiently and effectively. In fact, I’m eager to do more of it! If you’re looking for a speaker for your board, conference, or … Continue reading Kris Putnam-Walkerly Named “Top 25 Philanthropy Speaker”

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3 Unexpected Lessons That Stuck

More years ago than I care to count, I received a Masters in Social Work from San Francisco State University. Although I never practiced as a clinical social worker, I consider myself to be doing “macro” social work every day. The lessons I learned in that program have contributed a great deal to my work in philanthropy, first as a foundation staffer and now as a consultant. However, the three lessons that have stuck with me the most vividly, and have proven to be stalwart wisdom throughout my career, have little to do with social work per-se and everything to do with how our world works. They guide my thinking in every project, my personal and professional interactions, and the … Continue reading 3 Unexpected Lessons That Stuck

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3 Ways Foundations Squash Risk-Taking

There was a time not too long ago when you rarely heard the word “foundation” and “risk” in the same sentence…or paragraph…or entire document. Risk simply hasn’t been something formally and broadly associated with philanthropy over the past few decades. However, it’s become pretty obvious to many people that the traditional ways of grantmaking are not enough to make a dent in the entrenched and intertwined social challenges of poverty, inequity, education or healthcare. Yes, one can’t blame philanthropy alone and other sectors very much bear their share of responsibility and obligation. But philanthropy can afford to take some risks that other sectors can’t. The concept of philanthropic risk isn’t new; there have always been some foundations that are willing … Continue reading 3 Ways Foundations Squash Risk-Taking

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