One of the most fundamental questions to consider as you make plans to gear up your giving is how you relate to the resources you are giving away. How does your wealth inform your identity and your values? Are you the first in your family to create substantial wealth, or are you the custodian of a longstanding fortune passed down from one generation to the next? What is the ultimate purpose of your wealth—what goals will it help you accomplish? What is the portion of your resources that exceeds your needs? What are you prepared to give away, and on what basis do you determine that?
Not all these questions are straightforward, and getting to the heart of them can require some soul searching. A helpful way to undertake this inquiry is to consider three key dimensions of your relationship to wealth:
1. Your Generational Relationship...
Consciously or not, every donor comes to their giving with a unique combination of factors to incorporate and accommodate. Why not become more aware and deliberate about the key considerations that shape the design of your giving? The better you understand what’s driving your design choices, the greater your opportunity to land on meaningful giving that truly creates joy and impact.
When working with clients as they make plans to gear up their giving I love to help people take themselves through a series of reflections. I've come to call these the Ten W’s for donors:
#2: Wealth Stance
#3: Wealth Stock
#6: Which Way
#10: Whatever Else
In this series of posts we'll work our way through each of these considerations in turn. This is a great way to elevate the impact of your giving out in the world and the sense of...
This post looks deeper to draw some key distinctions that could be helpful whatever role you play in the philanthropic landscape.
Strategic Philanthropy: When Funders Take on the Role of Entrepreneur
When you think about gearing up your giving, whose ideas are you planning to back? Yours or someone else’s?
Strategic philanthropy is what you do when you have your own theory of change, your own ideas about how best implement that theory, and you invest your resources accordingly.
In the most extreme version of this approach your grantees function like contractors hired to carry out elements of your strategy...
In this post we'll look at design thinking as another key tool for donors who are looking to get real when it comes to their giving. Design thinking is a great complement to systems thinking and critical thinking which we looked at in earlier posts in this series on tools for taking the quality of your thinking as a donor to the next level. Design thinking requires that you get beyond the limitations of your own vantage point. This can be particularly important for all of us who typically operate in the mode of “rational experts.” If you are pretty sure everything would work out great in your giving if you could...
In the first two posts in this series we looked at systems thinking and root cause analysis as powerful ways for donors to unravel the complexity of real world challenges. In this post we turn to critical thinking as a vital tool to better understand yourself, your perspective, your identity, and your own role in the deeper systems and structures you are seeking to change through your giving.
Critical thinking is about analyzing and evaluating the world around you from an objective perspective in order to form accurate conclusions. As Linda Elder, President of the Foundation for Critical Thinking, puts it:
“Critical thinking is self-guided, self-disciplined thinking which attempts to reason at the highest level of quality in a fair-minded way…. [Critical thinkers] realize that no matter how skilled they are as thinkers, they can always improve their...
In the first post in this series we looked at systems thinking as a key way to unravel the complexity of real world challenges. By helping to illuminate deeper systems at play, unexpected feedback loops, and other counterintuitive dynamics, systems thinking helps us gain clarity as change agents. This is not a matter of subscribing to ideologically driven articles of faith, but rather of pragmatic reflection on how the systems around us actually function, whatever their stated purpose.
So why aren't more donors and their teams already using systems thinking? One reason is that the tools for applying it have often been presented in a very dense, challenging fashion. This causal loop diagram global fish stocks is an example.
There’s deep insight there, but it looks a lot like a bowl of spaghetti to the untrained eye. Learning to understand, much less construct, the causal loop...
Donors can become so attached to their own vision and strategic plan that they end up trying to bend reality around themselves. Purposefully or not, they encourage those around them to voice only what they already want to hear. This has a terrible impact on their own effectiveness as donors. It can also be deeply dispiriting for their grantees and their staff.
Imagine if, as an investor in financial markets, you had a bedrock belief that the next wave of consumer demand in home furnishings was going to be all about sustainably sourced coconut fiber rugs and textiles. You and your family office investment team build up an elaborate investment thesis that includes positions in all the different layers of that supply chain, from coconut groves to fiber processing plants. Every time your team brings you the latest data showing that nobody actually wants to buy anything made with coconut fiber, you tell them there...
Wherever you are in your journey as a donor seeking to translate money into meaning, chances are, there’s room for improvement in either the impact of your giving or your own sense of fulfillment as you do it.
Why? Because your fullest potential as a human being and a change agent is almost always outside your current comfort zone. What’s more, the vast majority of us are still functioning on a kludged together version of humanity’s original mental operating system, something that is optimized for a simpler, bygone world of prehistoric “fight or flight” survival by individuals and small groups.
So how do we meet the challenge of finding both joy and impact in the time and place we actually live in? This is an increasingly interconnected world full of wickedly complex problems that we can neither fight our way out of nor run away from. All...
There's a tremendous opportunity for donors as well as social entrepreneurs to achieve positive impact and joy through program sponsorship. I get a lot of questions about this model because this is how we resource the Joyful Impact Accelerator we run for social entrepreneurs and a similar program we run for philanthropy advisors.
This post walks through the sponsorship model as a resource engine to provide teaching, coaching and other programs which focus on participants' learning and development.
What are we talking about here? In its simplest form, a sponsorship approach breaks up the bilateral relationship between a donor and a grantee. The sponsor provides resources to the provider and the provider in turn provides programming and/or other supports to program participant.
Sign up below to receive free access to the Joyful Impact Members Area, where you can access all kinds of learning materials and content to help you step up your game as a change agent.
These are the same materials we use with the social entrepreneurs in our accelerator program and the funders we coach one on one. The world has never been more in need of a new, greatest generation of change agents and that's why we're opening up free access to these materials to anyone who's ready to make use of them!