Test your readiness with the following checklist. Incorporating a strategic approach to grantmaking isn’t something foundations can or should do overnight. Developing a strategy involves learning, planning, testing and cultivating support within the community. When, how, and how much to invest in a strategic approach are decisions that foundation leadership must weigh carefully. Moving into strategic philanthropy can be intimidating. There are many steps to take, questions to ask, and options to consider. But don’t let the challenge lead to paralysis. If you’re thinking of developing a strategic grantmaking approach, use the following checklist to test your readiness. Do any of these statements reflect your current situation? You are frustrated by a lack of understanding of your foundation’s impact. You … Continue reading Are You Ready to be Strategic?
Prepare for a year of greater philanthropic impact! As philanthropic organizations, we’re hopefully starting a new year with a renewed commitment to do good for others. It’s at the root of every philanthropic mission, after all. And, as philanthropies, we all try to make decisions that are in service to our missions, represent good stewardship, and result in the greatest impact. But sometimes, in making those very decisions, we unintentionally do more to damage our impact than to further it. I call this Delusional Altruism®, and I’ve seen it manifest itself in many ways. For example: When funders penny pinch on their own infrastructure or professional development in the name of getting more money out the door to grantees, … Continue reading Three Ways to Keep Delusional Altruism from Undermining Your Philanthropy in 2018
Philanthropy is supposed to feel great. But what if it doesn’t? As the holiday season approaches, many of us are reminded frequently that this is supposed to be a time of joy. Sometimes it’s easy to be thankful and happy about theblessings in our lives — especially if we work in philanthropy! But sometimes the joy gets squeezed right out of us with deadlines, overflowing inboxes, people we don’t like to spend time with (whether they are grantees, co-workers or foundation trustees), frantic year-end meetings that never result in action and much more. When we lose the joy that should come with giving, it shows. We have less energy and enthusiasm to share with our team. Our creativity suffers, as do our relationships with grantees and partners. I believe … Continue reading Where’s The Joy?
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
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
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
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
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