effective philanthropy blog
Give SmartThis is the final post reviewing 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. In the second post we examined determining what success looks like, emphasizing accountability, and investments of time, money and influence. Now we will continue with the final three major takeaways from this book: 

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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:

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

Overview:  On average, philanthropy is … well …average. The current state of philanthropy is that it overhypes and underperforms. Market forces do not come into play, and the power imbalance between donors who have money and nonprofits who seek it can have a chilling effect on real time and useful feedback.Give Smart looks at what it takes to utterly transform this. Outstanding donors demand excellence of themselves and do not settle for mediocre results. They develop true and open partnerships with grantees and are not afraid of failure and the valuable lessons it can teach. They are clear about their values and beliefs and realistic about what they hope to accomplish. They have gone through the process of thoughtfully defining success and have a plan to achieve it. Most tellingly, donors who “give smart” continuously ask, “Am I getting better?” and consciously learn to improve over time.

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“The most interesting developments in philanthropy are trends in engagement.” - Patty Stonesifer, former CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

For many donors, writing a check directly to a nonprofit or stuffing envelopes isn’t enough. There is an interest in being more involved, either by being part of a grant process to determine where and how much money is given to certain nonprofits in a specific focus area or actually being involved in the day-to-day operation of a nonprofit and assisting in capacity building. Over the past seven years, I have taken an active role in engaging donors in both grantmaking and capacity building with nonprofits. Engaged philanthropy can be defined as the way in which donors serve in an active role either in grantmaking or with organizations and local leaders to meet community needs.

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ZipcareIf you’re anything like me, you don’t own CDs anymore because you buy single songs on iTunes. You get around using Zipcar andCapital Bike Share and your house is full of furniture from CraigsList and FreeCycle. Heck, I don’t even go out to eat or to the hair salon unless I’ve previously purchased aGroupon or LivingSocial deal. What I didn’t realize was that by taking advantage of all of these options, I am one of the millions of consumers who are contributing to the rise of the shared economy.

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SSLR Winter 2011This is the second of two posts on Collective Impact,” an article by John Kania and Mark R. Kramer from the Winter 2011 issue of Stanford Social Innovation Review.

The primary example of cross sector collaboration profiled in Collective Impact is “Strive”, a Cincinnati based initiative addressing education reform from “cradle to career.” Three hundred organizations initially agreed to participate in Strive across all three social sectors – government, corporate, and nonprofit organizations.  A core group of influential leaders from these sectors began to emerge, and over the course of three years (as of the date Collective Impact was written in the winter of 2011), student achievement in Cincinnati had improved across 34 of 53 success indicators.

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SSLR Winter 2011This is the first of two posts on Collective Impact,” an article by John Kania and Mark R. Kramer from the Winter 2011 issue of Stanford Social Innovation Review.

At first glance, an article entitled “Collective Impact” sounds like it would contain some appealing and interesting ideas for cross sector collaboration on social issues. And it does. But a very provocative message for the philanthropic sector actually lives here, something that upends traditional and current notions of how we fundamentally engage in philanthropy. And this is it:  Philanthropy as currently practiced is inadequate to effect positive change on a complex social issue. Philanthropists of every stripe – individuals, foundations and companies – need to wake up to this and change our thinking about what we do and how we do it.

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Do More Than GiveThis is the third and final post 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).

Practice #1:  Advocate for Change:  Most donors run from advocacy, not embrace it. There are many rational reasons for this. Advocacy can be risky. You can make enemies that you would rather not make in the process of advocating for a cause. Advocacy is time consuming. It takes communications skills that many donors do not think they have. And it takes focus, practice and (above all) persistence. But Crutchfield and her co-authors make a very compelling case that without advocacy, systemic change rarely happens. It takes a lot more than writing a check to a nonprofit to effect change in the social sector. Advocacy can make the difference.

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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.

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Do More Than GiveThis is the first 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).

What does it take to effect change in the social sector? That is the overarching question of “Do More Than Give: The Six Practices of Donors Who Change the World.” Three of the most prominent thought leaders on national trends in philanthropy hold up models of “catalytic” donors who truly move the needle on complex social issues.

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