Get a Life


sunset-958145_1920 2I just got back from my family’s annual month-long vacation to Chautauqua Institution, New York. In between long walks with my husband, taking our kids boating on Lake Chautauqua, and countless dinner parties with friends, I was retained by three new clients, booked a speaking engagement, became a “practical advice” content partner to Alliance Magazine (the leading magazine for the global philanthropic sector), and was asked to be the new “international expert on strategic philanthropy” for an online European philanthropy news outlet (more on that in the coming months). Sounds like a pretty productive vacation, right?!

I’m often asked by my advising and coaching clients how they can create a better “work-life balance.” And I share the advice I’ve learned from my own business coach: we don’t have a “work life” and a “personal life,” we have a life.

I’m delighted to talk to potential new clients while on vacation, summarize our conversation into a proposal, and begin to help them immediately. Why make them wait? Similarly, I feel no guilt taking the afternoon – or the day – off to spend time with my kids. In fact, I’m taking Friday off to go to the world’s greatest amusement park in Sandusky, OH – Cedar Point. I want to reconnect my 8-year old twins with that quintessential summertime activity: being terrified out of your mind while riding a roller coaster! And if a client calls or texts me while I’m there, I will gladly return their call as soon as I’m back on solid ground.

My goal is to improve my client’s condition. To help them have a transformational impact on the issues and communities they care about, often transforming themselves in the process – as quickly as possible. If I can do that on the beach, in a boat, or while eating corn dogs at an amusement park, why not?

While everyone may not have the same career flexibility that I have, there are still ways to make the best use of your time, whether you are in an office all day, working from home, in a coffee shop, or on the road. The goal is the same, especially in philanthropy – to organize your work and your life so that you can make the greatest impact possible in the least amount of time.

In philanthropy we get too caught up in our rigid processes (requiring site visits for all applicants, only writing checks the third Thursday of the month, requiring a standard 6-week timeline for approving a contract of strategic importance, 300 page board dockets, weekly meetings that accomplish little, etc.) and not on determining what is the fastest way to achieve the greatest impact (or for that matter, to make a decision). You don’t need a lengthy planning process if your team is 80% in agreement already; develop your strategy with the 80% and have confidence that you will figure the 20% out along the way. You don’t need to waste your and your grantee’s time with a site visit if you already have the information and confidence you need to make the grant. Focus on your goals, and then organize your time and effort to expeditiously meet that goal, not to adhere to some process.

If you want to achieve dramatic results with confidence and clarity – in as little time as possible – call me at +1-800-598-2102 x1. If I can’t answer immediately, I will gladly return your call quickly during standard business hours (Eastern Standard Time). Guaranteed.

© 2018 Kris Putnam-Walkerly. All rights reserved. Permission granted to excerpt or reprint with attribution.

How Can I Help You?

I serve as a trusted advisor to foundation leaders and high-wealth donors across the globe. My clients report immediate and dramatic improvement in both personal performance and philanthropic impact.

If you or someone you know could use my help, please send them my way. Contact me directly at or call me at 800-598-2102 x1 and we can work together to make your giving matter.


Kris Putnam-Walkerly, MSW, has helped to transform the impact of top global philanthropies for almost 20 years. A member of the Million Dollar Consultant Hall of Fame and named one of America’s Top 25 Philanthropy Speakers. Author of the award-winning book Confident Giving: Sage Advice for Funders, which was named one of “The 10 Best Corporate Social Responsibility Books.” For more ways to improve your giving, visit Putnam Consulting Group.


“As my strategic advisor and sounding board, Kris is always there when I need a clear path forward or a reality check. I am grateful to have her as a trusted, unbiased, and experienced professional to turn to!” 

Maureen Sheehan Massaro, Executive Director, Wilson Sheehan Foundation


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