Tag Archives: leadership

Demolish Philanthropic Bureaucracy For Good​

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​

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6 Questions A Foundation Board Should Ask Its CEO

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

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10 Steps to Rapid Strategy Implementation

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

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Your Strategic Plan is About to Fail

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

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8 Mistakes To Avoid When Starting Out In Philanthropy

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

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What’s Your ‘Secret Weapon’​ In Philanthropy?

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?

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Ten Most Read Articles of 2018

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

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Want To Give Back? Give Up!

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!

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Bringing The Joy Back To Your Philanthropy

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

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Why Foundation Strategy Moves Slowly

Tackle these 6 common challenges to pick up speed. In grantmaking, it is always important to eliminate unnecessary steps and streamline our grant processes. Streamlining strengthens our foundations, creates more effective strategies and supports efficiencies for our grantees. But just as important as streamlining your foundation is understanding why our processes can become bogged down in the first place. Philanthropy isn’t the only field that can be slow when it comes to strategy. Any corporation or department of government faces the same struggles in trying to remain responsive to current conditions. The best way to pick up speed when it comes to strategy is to face these six common challenges head on: 1. Fear Fear is the No. 1 reason work slows … Continue reading Why Foundation Strategy Moves Slowly

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