Tag Archives: strategic planning

5 Ways to Prepare for the Unexpected

Unexpected events are a part of philanthropy, in much the same way surprise snows can be a part of spring. Depending on where you are and what you’re doing (and whether or not school is cancelled), that snow can be a blessing or a curse. For funders, unexpected events run the gamut from creating inconvenience to rocking entire worlds. Key staff may leave your team at a critical time. External forces (such as presidential elections, say) can make dramatic shifts in the environment in which your focus your giving. Or, as was the case with one foundation I’ve worked with, government leaders who were valuable partners for your initiative may end up in jail for corruption (completely unrelated to your … Continue reading 5 Ways to Prepare for the Unexpected

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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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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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Clarity Trumps Strategy

I’m a highly organized person, and can spend endless hours creating strategies, with corresponding tactics, timelines and to-do lists. But in my experience, one thing trumps strategy: clarity. You can have all the strategies, logic models, and theories of change in the world, but you won’t get far if you aren’t crystal clear inside your head about what you are trying to accomplish. Let me give you two quick examples from my life, neither of which have anything to do with philanthropy. Many years ago I was in an unhealthy relationship. For five years. Thousands of dollars of therapy later, it wasn’t until I had clarity that this person wasn’t going to change, I needed to get out, and I … Continue reading Clarity Trumps Strategy

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Purge, Plan, Reward: Your 3-Step Process for Getting Anything Done Quickly

For once I would like to enter autumn feeling on top of things: my client work mapped out for the year, a clear understanding of how to meet my remaining annual goals in these next four months, and my kids’ school activities listed in my calendar. I would like to look fabulous in a wardrobe of “fall transitional clothes,” rather than resemble Eric Carle’s Mixed-Up Chameleon in some crazy combo of flip-flops, cotton dresses, and wool sweaters. So I’ve decided to implement a three-step process to solve my fall dilemma: Purge, Plan, Reward. I’m going to block out three solid days in the next month to: Purge: Out with the old (or the stressful, or the irrelevant) before starting something new. … Continue reading Purge, Plan, Reward: Your 3-Step Process for Getting Anything Done Quickly

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