Do More Than GiveThis is the second of three posts constituting a review of a terrific recent book on effective philanthropy entitled “Do More Than Give: The Six Practices of Donors Who Change the World” by Leslie R. Crutchfield, John V. Kania, and Mark R. Kramer (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2011. Print).

Step one: “Commit to a Cause:” A donor must first pick a narrow focus for his or her philanthropy. Without focus, there can be no impact. Donors must get clear about what cause to choose. This is an absolute condition precedent to catalytic philanthropy, and not an easy task to accomplish. Committing to one among many compelling community causes is a challenge for any donor. This is especially true for community foundations that are accountable to a broad range of donors with many concerns. It also poses a difficulty for corporate givers that want to support the existing philanthropy of their employees in just one geographic area.

First, pick a cause you know well and that resonates with you on a deep and significant level. That is the internal inquiry: Is it a cause you truly, deeply care about? Then, pick a cause that also appears ripe for change, one that has already been embraced by a broad spectrum of community donors and leaders with a likelihood of success. That is the external inquiry: Does this cause already have momentum in the external environment? Finally, ask yourself “Where do I personally have the most leverage?” The answer to that question will help point the way.

Take a hard look at the facts and use available data to make this important first decision. Once you have committed to a cause, the “six practices” then come into play. The final blog post on this book will discuss each of those six practices.