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?
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.
Three ways to cede control — and improve your funding results. Most funders — whether institutional or individual — want to give back to society in meaningful ways. But many delude themselves by thinking they know more than they do, have the perfect solution to apply to a problem or are in the best position to make key decisions about where to invest in the problem they hope to solve. At their core, they believe that they know best or are better able to learn about and analyze problems and solutions than the people whom they purport to serve. This is perfectly understandable since our society tends to equate the accumulation of wealth with superior intellect — or at least … Continue reading Want To Give Back? Give Up!
Here are 5 steps you can take to rekindle your love of philanthropy. Renew the spark that set you on this path. When you first entered the world of philanthropy, did you begin each new day with a sense of excitement? Were you driven by all the possibilities to effect change that you saw on the horizon? When a new project crossed your desk, did the challenge fill you with joy? Fast-forward to now. Do you wake up excited for your day’s work — or unenthusiastic? Are you driven by possibility — or compelled by deadlines and tired bureaucracy? As challenges arise, do you still feel joy — or only dread? As philanthropists, nearly all of us have experienced the … Continue reading Bringing The Joy Back To Your Philanthropy
Talk about giving with your family to instill philanthropic traditions. The holidays tend to ignite the spirit of giving in all of us. As your family gathers to celebrate, the dining room table is a great place to start the discussion of philanthropy. As you give thanks, give back. As you fill your bellies, think about how you can fill the bellies of those in need. This time of year, especially, families come together and volunteer for worthy causes, give to their favorite charities and visit charitable organizations. The holiday season reminds us of the importance to “spread cheer” and do good in the world. As the end of the year approaches, this is a great time to assess your … Continue reading Spread The Spirit Of Meaningful Giving This Holiday Season
4 best practices for effectively partnering with other funders Philanthropists often expect nonprofits to collaborate, but they less frequently turn that expectation on themselves. Yet there is tremendous opportunity to exponentially expand the impact of your grantmaking through funder collaboration. Foundations and individual philanthropists can collaborate with all types of entities, including other local, state or national foundations; donor-advised funds; businesses; universities; other individuals; funder networks; government agencies; and nonprofits, to name just a few. No matter whom you choose to join in collaboration, there are four things you can do to ensure that collaboration will be a success. The four best practices for effectively partnering with other funders: Communicate early and often. Lack of communication can prevent your funding collaborative … Continue reading How To Make Your Funder Collaboration A Success
Practice Transformational Giving with Courage and Creativity Ask almost anyone even vaguely familiar with philanthropy what a foundation does, and the answer will likely be “they give money away.” That’s true, but what if instead the go-to answer was: “They improve people’s lives,” or “They transform communities,” or even, “They make a difference you can see and our community wouldn’t be the same without them”? In general, checkbook philanthropy is great at addressing needs, but not so effective when it comes to solving the problems that create the need. For example, supporting a homeless shelter is a great way to meet the needs of those in crisis, but what if we addressed the issues that caused them to become homeless … Continue reading Beyond the Checkbook: The Power of Transformational Giving
Spot and change behaviors that undermine your own altruistic goals. Delusional altruism is rampant in the philanthropic sector. I coined the term “Delusional Altruism®” to describe situations in which a funder is genuinely trying to make a difference on the issues and communities it cares about—while paying absolutely no attention to how it may be getting in its own way, nor to the operational inefficiency and waste that drains both the donor and grantees of the human and financial capital necessary to accomplish their goals. It can be difficult for funders to recognize when they’re engaging in delusional altruism. Because of this, I’ve created the online Delusional Altruism Diagnostic that allows funders to rate their performance based on 10 manifestations … Continue reading 10 Ways To Overcome Delusional Altruism In Your Philanthropy
6 Questions to Regularly Ask Yourself and Your Partners Most philanthropies seek to be strategic and have an impact. Yet few build their own internal capacity to be strategic grantmakers. In particular, most funders forget to intentionally learn from their initial piloting and testing of strategies so that they can make early modifications and course corrections. Learning isn’t hard to do, but it must be intentional, documented, discussed within your team, and it must lead to decision making. It can’t simply exist inside a program officer’s head. One of our clients asks themselves, “What will make or break this grant?” when deciding whether to recommend a significant grant to their board. They are clear on the risks involved and what … Continue reading Are You Really Learning and Improving?