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Giving More Than Money
Many philanthropists believe that high-impact philanthropy requires personal engagement. While giving money is crucially important to support causes, philanthropists can also supplement giving with other resources where appropriate. The philanthropists we interviewed are finding ways to give more than money, such as using their convening power, business skills, connections, or fundraising efforts. “When I think about how to achieve results [in philanthropy]”, David Weekley says in talking about how he lends his expertise to the nonprofits he funds. “It’s been helpful when I can get involved in things where I can really add value.”
The philanthropists we interviewed describe their commitment to giving more than money in a number of ways. For example, some actively collaborate with existing public and private structures, and take risks that government can’t or won’t. Others provide advice and seed capital to turn ideas into organizations and accelerator grants to help high-performing nonprofits grow. And some serve on boards and help recruit senior team members and additional financial backers for grantee organizations. In other words, they are finding new ways to supplement their funds to further their overall cause.
While many of the philanthropists we interviewed continue to provide funding to nonprofits, an increasing number also bring their entrepreneurial skills to bear by beginning their own organizations to support their chosen causes and beneficiaries. These endeavors tend to focus on filling gaps, and sometimes include for-profit ventures.
Many of our interviewees describe how they bring the same level of rigor to philanthropy as they do to business. Some see an additional role for their philanthropy to spur government into action, either by providing a model for governments to follow or by demonstrating results in order to influence policy. Still others speak to the importance of being leveraged when providing time and influence. For example, where time is particularly scarce, it can be more time- and cost-effective to use donor advised funds or venture philanthropy firms, which permit donors to pool funds and share grantmaking staff.
In a variety of ways, our interviewees have found ways to leverage the money they give for greater impact by also giving of their own time and influence.