Beat it back — or stop it before it even starts! We often hear about streamlining philanthropy — mostly with regard to efforts at simplifying grant applications, approval processes and reporting requirements. Streamlining is great. But when it comes to philanthropic bureaucracy, sometimes what we really need is a bulldozer. Some bureaucratic processes are so ridiculous, they just need to be demolished. Here’s a great example of philanthropic bureaucracy: 300-page board dockets. Imagine the joy on the board members’ faces when they receive those reams of paper in the mail to prepare for each board meeting. Imagine the hours and hours of foundation staff time that went into creating those reams of paper. Now, do you really think that anyone … Continue reading Demolish Philanthropic Bureaucracy For Good
A board member’s job includes staying focused on the big picture. Serving on the board of a philanthropic foundation isn’t just about approving grants. It’s about being a good steward of resources and sharing responsibility for the foundation’s impact. Too often the focus tends to be on board meeting preparation and the efficiency of these meetings. Take a moment to break from the routine and consider asking your foundation CEO these questions to help the organization focus on the big picture. 1. How does this fit within our strategy? Let’s say your CEO announces, “We’re going to engage in a county-wide campaign to increase public transportation.” That sounds like a great idea, right? Who could be against public transportation? That’s … Continue reading 6 Questions A Foundation Board Should Ask Its CEO
Most funders fail at this. Are you one of them? About a year ago I decided to publish another book. I went so far as to write “publish book by year’s end” on a yellow post-it and stuck it next to my computer so that I’d see it every day. And then I let a bunch of other stuff get in the way. Client deadlines, speaking engagements, scheduling camp for my kids. I hadn’t made the book a priority, so nothing happened. A year later I changed. I made the book one of my top three priorities. Then I made a list of the most important things I needed to do to publish it. I blocked out time in my … Continue reading 10 Steps to Rapid Strategy Implementation
Strategy most often fails in implementation. With all the effort that went into developing your new strategy and writing your strategic plan, the hardest part is making the darn think work! Many donors, foundations and corporate giving programs create strategic plans to clarify their philanthropic goals and guide funding decisions. Too often, however, their new strategy doesn’t even get off the ground. Here are five reasons for this: 1. You are exhausted. If you are like most foundations and philanthropists, you have spent WAY too long developing your strategy. Endless meetings, environmental scans, self-assessments, board assessments, finding and engaging a small army of content experts, writing and re-writing the perfect strategic plan document (complete with beautiful graphics and theories of change). … Continue reading Your Strategic Plan is About to Fail
How new foundation trustees can have lasting and effective success. Whether you are launching a new foundation, refreshing your giving strategy, or are a new foundation board member, you want your philanthropy to change the world. Yet you feel unsure how to tackle complex social problems and wonder if you have what it takes to make a difference. It’s vital for new foundation leaders to determine your goals and implement your strategy without becoming mired in a culture that stifles effectiveness. To help educate and guide foundation boards toward early and lasting success, I have compiled a list of eight common mistakes foundation trustees often make — and how to avoid them. 1. They make the simple complex. Too often … Continue reading 8 Mistakes To Avoid When Starting Out In Philanthropy
Stop endless planning and catapult yourself to your desired future. The term “strategic planning” is an oxymoron. Formulating your strategy equates to determining your desired future state—for example, what change you want see in your community, what organization you want to become, what type of person you want to be. Implementing your strategy means moving from your current state to your desired future state as quickly as possible. Planning, however, is incremental. We ask ourselves what we can accomplish a year or two from now, given current resources and priorities. And then we let all kinds of things get in the way. “Well, we have that conference to organize and that will take a few months, then we need a few months to plan for … Continue reading You Need A Strategic Catapult (And I’ll Tell You Why)
Free yourself from the daily grind and support your best work. Keeping up with board meetings, grant applications, new partnerships, changes in technology and more can make the day-to-day work of managing a foundation very full, and sometimes overflowing. Every foundation CEO or board chair needs to create space for something more, though—your own way of pausing the routine and thinking bigger. I like to call it a “secret weapon.” It varies for each individual, but the outcome is the same: allowing time to better reflect, think and inform your philanthropy. What do you read? There’s no shortage of information available to better advise your work. Most clients I talk to are frustrated with information overload. Yes, that is something … Continue reading What’s Your ‘Secret Weapon’ In Philanthropy?
Every delay in our approach to philanthropy delays our ability to change lives and make an impact. When it comes to your philanthropy, do you feel a sense of urgency? Are you striving to be a responsive investor who makes a difference through true social change? Or do you still adhere to the old-school philanthropic style of sitting around fancy boardroom tables and talking politely while poring over mounds of documentation? If you find yourself falling into the latter category, it’s time to pick up the pace! Why should you change your approach? Because every delay prevents our ability to have an impact — and impact in philanthropy is about people’s lives. When we’re talking about ensuring access to high-quality … Continue reading How To Pick Up The Pace And Have Greater Impact In Philanthropy
Below are my 10 most read, shared, and commented upon articles from 2018 on Forbes.com and in my Confident Giving newsletter in 2018. Many of them were also re-posted in the newsletters and blogs of leading organizations in philanthropy, including Alliance Magazine, Giving Compass, Exponent Philanthropy, National Center for Family Philanthropy, PEAK Grantmaking and others. My readers often tell me they appreciate that my articles are provocative AND practical, and help them with the exact issues they are working on in their philanthropic giving. I hope they help you transform your giving and catapult your impact in 2019. The Delusional Philanthropist All too often philanthropists delude themselves about their own effectiveness because they don’t see the myriad ways they are … Continue reading Ten Most Read Articles of 2018
At the end of every year a consulting colleague — who I admire and adore — posts about how she takes the last few weeks of each year to set her professional and personal goals for the upcoming year. For a nanosecond I feel envy because – you guessed it – I have not yet set any such goals. Then I remember a significant difference between us: she has no kids and I have five. I have eight-year old twins plus three delightful step kids. So, while I imagine her sipping a latte in her clean and organized home, thoughtfully reflecting on what she wants to accomplish in her business and personal life, I am quite aware of what the last two weeks of … Continue reading No 2019 Goals Yet? No Worries.