Tag Archives: funder

Death By a Thousand Data Points

Let me start this post by saying that data is not a bad thing. It informs our decisions much more accurately than our guts, and it keeps us honest in terms of outcomes. Both of those functions keep philanthropy moving forward in effective ways. But too much data can also grind your effectiveness to a halt. Let me explain. I’ve facilitated several strategic planning sessions where my clients have begun with a request for data. Together, we’ve determined which data points will be necessary for informing their strategic decisions, and I’ve mobilized the Putnam team to help collect and analyze it. We present our findings and recommendations. There is enough there to inform the planning process and move forward. This … Continue reading Death By a Thousand Data Points

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Innovation is for Everyone

“Innovation” is one of those terms with many connotations, so it’s important to consider what you mean when you use it in your philanthropy. If you don’t have a clear definition, it leaves the onus to define and deliver innovation completely up to others, or it implies that innovation is something that “just happens.” Further, lack of clear definition has come to imply that innovation must be a dramatic, game-changing, disruptive new idea or practice: the iPhone of early childhood education, the Post-It note of economic development. Funders give little or no thought to how they expect grantees to be innovative – they certainly don’t help provide technical assistance or capacity support to help achieve innovation. And while everyone wants to … Continue reading Innovation is for Everyone

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Philanthropy and Science in an “Alternative Truths” World

Guest blog by Michael Green, CEO of Center for Environmental Health, www.ceh.org, and  former Putnam Consulting Client. For more than two decades, our organization, the Center for Environmental Health, has worked to protect children and families from harmful chemicals in consumer products and in our air, water and food. Among our many efforts has been work on national campaigns to address the threats that genetically engineered or GMO crops pose to health, the environment and sustainable farming. In talking to philanthropists about this work, we have often been faced with long discussions to dispel the myths they have learned about GMOs from the mainstream media. For years, the companies that make GMOs have flooded the media with unverified claims, promising … Continue reading Philanthropy and Science in an “Alternative Truths” World

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5 Ways Philanthropy Can Support The Electoral Process

No matter what your political leanings, I think we can all agree that this year’s election cycle has been one of the most tense and unpleasant in recent history. It’s enough to turn voters off from voting at all, and we probably all have a colleague, friend or family member somewhere who has announced their intention to skip the polls this year. But even if the choices may be unappealing to some, the act of voting is still important. Voting is a right, but it’s also a responsibility. And for many segments of our nation’s population (women, people of color, immigrants), voting represents the culmination of a hard-fought battle. While funders can’t support or endorse specific candidates, they can ensure … Continue reading 5 Ways Philanthropy Can Support The Electoral Process

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Five ways to avoid delusional altruism

This post was originally published on Smart Business.  It is reposted here with permission. Good businesses pride themselves on the good they do for others, both in terms of their products and services and in the way they give back to their communities. However, in my 16 years of experience advising corporate, institutional and individual philanthropists, I’ve found that many 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 those you’re trying to help or your own company or corporate foundation of the human and financial capital necessary to accomplish these goals. Let me give you two common examples of delusional altruism … Continue reading Five ways to avoid delusional altruism

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Let’s Bring Sanity Back to Grantmaking

Too Hard, Too Soft, or Just Right? Remember the story of Goldilocks and the three bears? At every turn, the blond-haired trespasser was confronted with choices, and in every case she picked the middle ground. Not that I condone breaking and entering, but there is something to be said for the idea of being neither too hard nor too soft on grantseekers. Either extreme – being too hard or being too “soft” ­- is a bad practice. Here’s why: Too Hard There is a longstanding philosophy among some funders that grants should be hard won by only those who can show themselves to be the most deserving. In some ways, they’re right. You don’t want to invest in an organization … Continue reading Let’s Bring Sanity Back to Grantmaking

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National TV show looking for nonprofit leaders

Are you a non-profit in need of funding? Colleagues of mine at TBA LLC are casting non-profit leaders to offer direct exposure to donors and funding sources in their television production. Casting closes September 20.  If you are interested, click here to apply right (it’s super easy and quick).  They will follow up with you to provide more information. Good luck!   Kris Putnam-Walkerly, MSW, is a philanthropy expert, speaker and advisor. Share

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5 Back-to-School Lessons for Philanthropists

It’s back-to-school time across most of the country, and my colleagues and I have all been trading stories of the build up to that first big day. Whether it’s pre-K or high school, there’s always something special about starting out on a new year. New clothes, fresh supplies, seeing old friends and making new ones — all of these things combine to create that magical sense of anticipation, excitement and butterflies that makes the moment memorable and can provide a positive launching pad for the entire year-long experience. I’ve also found that same sense of excitement and anticipation in my work with funders who are launching a new initiative or an entirely new philanthropy. There is the same sense of … Continue reading 5 Back-to-School Lessons for Philanthropists

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How to Strike Fear in the Hearts of Grantees

In my experience, few words strike fear in the hearts of foundation grantees like the following, when dropped by a program officer’s lips:  We’re about to start a strategic planning process.  Aarrrgh! Nooooo! I can almost hear the screams of terror here in my top-secret vacation retreat spot. And who can blame them?  A funder undergoing strategic planning often pulls the rug out from under grantees, at least temporarily, while the funder “suspends grantmaking” for a few months or even a year to “evaluate priorities and approaches.”  During that time, grantees might be asked to answer questions about their work, participate in discussion or focus groups, or even (gulp) share their opinions with funders in person. And all the while, … Continue reading How to Strike Fear in the Hearts of Grantees

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What Being Pregnant with Twins Taught Me About Philanthropy

Almost every aspiring mom (and dad) has big plans and preconceived ideas about what pregnancy will be like. You picture the way your life might change, you plan out a nursery, order a crib – it’s pretty straightforward stuff. Straightforward, that is, until you discover you’re having twins. Suddenly, all those plans and preconceptions go out the window, and you have to rethink everything. The basic premise is still the same – you’re bringing new life into the world and want to raise it well – but now the reality in which you’ll operate is vastly different than expected. The realities in which foundations operate bring similar shifts and challenges on a regular basis. We start out our careers or our … Continue reading What Being Pregnant with Twins Taught Me About Philanthropy

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