Nothing creates heart pounding ghoulish fear in the minds of a grantee like hearing from their funder: “We’re about to start strategic planning.” A funder undergoing strategic planning can put the nail in the coffin for grantees…at least temporarily. Philanthropic strategy development seems to last forever. During this time, and often behind closed doors, the funder might “suspend grantmaking” to “evaluate priorities and approaches.” This leaves nonprofits to wonder if this dark period will lift. And when it does, will the funder still support their organization? Strategy development is important. It helps philanthropists clarify what they want to accomplish. It should lead to change. But it doesn’t need to leave grantees screaming at their desk chairs! You don’t want to … Continue reading One Guaranteed Way to Scare Your Grantees!
How to get the most out of your philanthropy. If you are like many wealthy individuals and families, you look to your wealth advisor or family office for help with charitable giving. But you also seek advice and guidance beyond checkbook donations. You need help selecting the best giving vehicle, such as starting a foundation or donor-advised fund. You want clarity on your philanthropic goals. You want to know if you’re having an impact. You need advice on how to involve your entire family in giving, while instilling a philanthropic legacy for generations to come. As a donor, your wealth advisor or family office is a potential resource for philanthropic advice. They already understand your financial goals and are helping … Continue reading 10 Questions Every Donor Should Ask Their Wealth Advisor
Change the outcomes in your philanthropic journey. Learning isn’t hard to do, but it must be intentional and continuous. Whatever role you play in philanthropy—be it donor, foundation leader or trustee—in order to make a real impact, you have to ask the right questions. And there is one question that is guaranteed to save time and money and help achieve dramatic results. It’s a simple question, but the answers you receive can help you start out with a sound strategy, change your outcomes and change the way you think about your giving. That question is this: “If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?” Yes, it’s really that simple. If you ask others that question while … Continue reading Ask One Question To Save Time, Save Money And Achieve Greater Impact
Get out of your own way and transform your giving. I recently learned from a client that the first thing she does each day is read a chapter from my award-winning book Confident Giving: Sage Advice for Funders and reflect upon how it relates to her work. She said, “It was helpful to get my mind oriented to where it ought to be. Less focused on tasks and more focused on, ‘Where are we going and how do we get there?’” As a writer and an advisor, I cannot begin to tell you how meaningful it is to hear this. To learn the advice I share in my newsletters and books helps philanthropists be more effective each day is powerful. I can help … Continue reading Free Download and New Book Coming February 2020
Do more than ready yourself for the unexpected. We have been told for most of our lives to prepare for the unexpected—save for a rainy day, have a Plan B and apply to some “safety schools” in case you don’t get accepted by your top-choice university. While being prepared for the unexpected is smart, it’s not as important as being prepared for the expected. As a philanthropist, your ultimate goal is to make the world a better place. To put ideas into action and create change where it is needed. One way to achieve this impact quickly and effectively is to be prepared for the expected. Problems will arise—that’s a guarantee—so you might as well be ready to deal with them. … Continue reading How to Prepare for These 5 Grantmaking Challenges
Follow a program development life cycle to achieve the greatest funding impact. Our society focuses on getting things done. Check the box. Scratch it off the list. Move on to the next thing. But when it comes to making lasting change, funders should think of their work in terms of a cycle, not a linear progression. This doesn’t mean funders should run in circles, but they should realize that impact comes from a “life cycle” approach to developing and launching grantmaking programs and funding initiatives. The same process can be applied to funders. I call this the Foundation Program Development Life Cycle, and I have identified its six stages. Stage One: Plan Think about what you want to accomplish, then … Continue reading Are You Running in Circles or Making an Impact?
Summer is fast approaching, and while you might be dreaming of sunny beaches and lazy summer days, you might also feel anxious about the progress you have not yet made during the first half of the year. Wasn’t it just January when you were making plans to change the world? And here we are days away from June 1st. How much progress have you made in your personal and professional goals? If you are like many of us, not as much as you hoped. Yikes! With the busyness of summer — family vacations, packing the kids up for camps and activities, and projects around the house — it can be hard to imagine finding the time or the energy to … Continue reading Fend Off Post-Summer Panic Before It Even Starts
Take your philanthropy and your effectiveness to the next level. Maybe you’ve been practicing philanthropy for a while and you’ve mastered the basics — the essentials you need to create a solid grantmaking strategy and process. How do you take your work and your effectiveness to the next level? It’s one thing to be competent; it’s another to go beyond the basics and really hone your craft. Here are four smart grantmaking practices that will help you do just that: Practice #1: Organize your work around your values. One of my clients was the new CEO of a health foundation. When she started she was delighted to see that words like “evaluation,” “learning,” “transparency” and “results” were written everywhere in the foundation: … Continue reading Beyond The Basics: 4 Smart Practices Of Savvy Grantmakers
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