Six Questions to More Effective Philanthropy
Giving away money is easy. Getting ever-improving results for your money is a lot harder. Confronting six essential questions can help you achieve the success you want. Depending on where you are in your journey, click on the question below to find tools, donor stories, and other resources to help you along your way.
What Are My Values and Beliefs?
All philanthropy is personal. Philanthropists can, and do, support almost everything, which can be a great strength. But if you are committed to making a real change in the world, you need to start by clarifying your aspirations. Getting started can be daunting with so many choices. In addition, everyone—family members, advisors, and staff—bring their own aspirations to the table. Getting clear about your aspirations makes it easier for everyone to work together. Click here
for help identifying the values and beliefs that will anchor your philanthropy.
What Is "Success" and How Can It Be Achieved?
Just as every philanthropist has unique aspirations, every philanthropist will have a different definition of success. Knowing what you are trying to achieve is essential to getting results, and it’s a deceptively difficult process. The complexity of the problems means there are many paths to choose from. Click here
for more on how to identify what a successful outcome will be, how to understand the situation you are facing thoroughly, and how to determine what success is feasible given the resources you want to deploy.
What Am I Accountable For?
Even the wealthiest philanthropists need help in solving society's toughest problems. It's easy to overestimate what you can actually contribute—so you have to be ruthlessly realistic about the resources you are willing and able to invest. Click here
to identify how you can best use your resources to achieve impact, and what non-financial resources you might bring to bear. Ultimately you will define a role for your philanthropy that both contributes to the outcomes you seek and matches your personal circumstances and preferences.
What Will It Take to Get the Job Done?
Philanthropists have to make good decisions and also ensure that they and their grantees are positioned to deliver results. Ultimately, execution trumps strategy, and successful execution requires capabilities, resources, and discipline. Click here
to learn how to ensure you are structured for success.
How Do I Work with Grantees?
There are many paths towards making a difference in the world with your philanthropy. The most common path donors take–which this question addresses directly–is funding nonprofits. Since they–not you–are on the ground, doing most (if not all) of the heaviest lifting, it’s really not much of a stretch to say that your single most important job is choosing your grantees wisely, then doing everything you can to help them deliver the best possible results. Click here
for more on how to do this well.
Am I Getting Better?
A success-driven philanthropist wants to understand results and how to maximize them. Yet for the complex problems philanthropy tackles, results are rarely black and white. So instead of focusing energy on perfect metrics, focus on improving over time. Click here
for resources on how best to measure and improve upon the results of your philanthropy.
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