Strategic Philanthropy

When making philanthropic endeavors, some may not understand that in order to optimize effectiveness, they should incorporate strategy and thoughtfulness. Nurturing a generous spirit and making a difference for a person, community, or the environment is a more complex and sophisticated field than just tossing your change into a jar. While charitable donations are often personal and individualized, there are four general that lessons anyone hoping to dive into philanthropy on any scale should learn.

Internal & External Lenses

When you’re determining what your philanthropic goals will be, It’s important to see things from a “big picture” perspective.

When looking through an internal lens, a question you need to explore within yourself include: what it is you’re hoping to achieve for an organization, your personal wealth, your family’s security or your business when donating time and money to charity? If your giving for personal reasons, it’s most likely inspired by theology, gratitude, ego, fear, recognition, creation, power, compassion, or tax and estate planning. Businesses typically hope to enhance their employee recruitment, retention, engagement and productivity as well as their customer loyalty, regulatory approval, and investor value.

When looking through an external lens, you’re asking yourself a different question: what are you hoping to preserve or change in your community, country, or the world?

Maintaining both and internal and external lens when it comes to perspective will help aid both individuals and organizations in developing a confident and clear philanthropic strategy.

Engage & Listen

When examining those internal and external questions in terms of how to design and implement your philanthropic strategy, include those closest to you in thoughtful and ongoing conversations about what it is that truly matters.

If your embarking to reach your charitable goals with your family, include all generations, even the toddlers. By giving them a voice and a vote in all matters, you’re able to reach a more well-rounded decision.

In business, it’s important to include and engage with certain stakeholders, such as employees, customers, and investors, when you are examining the answers to the internal and external questions. In fact, engaging with certain stakeholders of your business has been shown to have a significant positive impact on the return of philanthropic investments.

Depth, not Width

While I love peanut butter, taking the “peanut butter” approach when making charitable donations–which is the practice of spreading your charity thinly across the surface of a wide variety of organizations–won’t make the impact you’re hoping for. Find a smaller, manageable number of important issues or causes that you’re passionate about, and focus deeply on making an impact.

What are you waiting for?

Just thinking about being philanthropic is the first step, but you need to take action in order to make an impact! Don’t wait to divvy your wealth post-mortem, that isn’t at all satisfying!

We don’t realize that we can afford to be more charitable with our current daily allowances, and we can do it without sacrificing quality of life. Let’s be honest, when have you ever heard of someone going into debt from being too philanthropic?

By consulting with a financial advisor, you can best determine an affordable amount of money that you can allocate to causes you deem worth.

Philanthropic strategist Bruce DeBoskey, J.D., once wrote “Philanthropy is like love. The more you make philanthropy a cornerstone of your life, the more you find the joy, meaning and satisfaction in living.”

To learn more, visit Jerold Novack’s philanthropy blog here!

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