Give SmartThis is the second of three posts that review the book “Give Smart: Philanthropy That Gets Results” by Thomas J. Tierney and Joel L. Fleishman (PublicAffairs, 2011). 

In the initial post about Give Smart we explored the three “terrible truths” of philanthropy, traps for the unwary, and the importance of defining values and beliefs. Here in today’s post are the next three major takeaways from this book:

4.       Getting Clear:  What is success and how can it be achieved?
  • What constitutes success? Be as realistic and specific as possible here and avoid big and unrealistic goals. A good working definition of success satisfies three criteria.  It reflects the values of the donor, it is specific, and it lends itself to measurement against defined goals.
  • What will it take to achieve success? Devise a “theory of change, which lays out the sequence of activities that are necessary to achieve success as you have defined it. Your “theory of change” starts with the change you want to see and then works backward to define what needs to happen.  It revolves around collaboration to achieve social impact.
  • Strategy is resource allocation.  It is critically important to align your available resources and build on your core strengths. The authors suggest that you keep an external orientation.  Look for the facts, measure what you can, and never become complacent.
  • Challenge grants can have the effect of not only leveraging dollars, but creating fellow enthusiasts who will take steps to further the cause.  We accomplish nothing alone!
  • Scope the landscape and build on existing success.  Don’t think your idea is unique unless you have done the research.  Always look around the landscape and see what others are doing that is similar to your approach, and learn from them.
5.       Get Personal:  What am I accountable for?
  • When you demand accountability of your grantees, you join the crowd of everyday philanthropists. But when you demand accountability of yourself, you are among the enlightened few and on your way to true impact!  Excellence is self-imposed in philanthropy.
  • Define the resources you can contribute broadly.  Start with money, but don’t stop there.  Your time, influence, reputation, and networks are all valuable resources to be tapped.
6.       Make the most of your money, time and influence. 
  • Think broadly about deploying your dollars. Perhaps funding an advertising campaign would be more effective than a cash grant.  Spend money in addition to giving it away.
  • Engage in “mission related investing. “ Innovative philanthropists offer loans, equity investments, and loan guarantees in addition to traditional philanthropy. For profit ventures can incorporate social action agendas and encourage consumers to engage as well.