High impact philanthropy was the topic of discussion at a recent event hosted by the Boston Philanthropic Advisors Roundtable (BPART) featuring Christine Kendall from SmarterGive. Although the information was mainly geared towards an audience of philanthropic advisors and foundations, it has relevance for other individuals and nonprofits as well.
Christine shared these key features of high impact philanthropy:
While a traditional philanthropist might wonder about what nonprofit to support, a high impact philanthropist poses the question, “What is the problem I want to solve and what do I need to solve it?” While a traditional philanthropist might be thinking about check writing and grant-making, a high impact philanthropist is thinking more broadly about using a variety of tools and tactics to achieve his/her goals, including possibly doing advocacy work and convening nonprofits, funders, government entities, businesses and other community members to collaborate on tackling a particular challenge.
Christine warned of “peanut butter” or “confetti” philanthropy where you spread your money around or sprinkle a bunch of different organizations with gifts. It is really hard to know what impact you are making with this approach.
She recommends taking a portfolio approach to philanthropy. She suggested setting aside 15% for gifts that relate to your personal and professional relationships (e.g., friends who ask you to sponsor them at races or buy tickets for an event). Set aside another 15% for gifts that are relevant to particular communities or geography that you care about (e.g., responses to natural disasters, gifts to your alma mater). These buckets are ones that you won’t necessarily track for impact. Then the 70% that remains is for your high impact philanthropy approach that is guided by asking the following questions:
Photo: Matias Garabedian