Design Fundamentals for Meaningful Giving #2: Wealth Stance

Uncategorized Feb 02, 2023

Design Fundamental #2: Wealth Stance

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 to wealth
  2. Your cultural relationship to wealth
  3. Your goal orientation to wealth

1. Your Generational Relationship...

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Design Fundamentals for Meaningful Giving #1: Worldview

Uncategorized Jan 25, 2023

The Ten W's for Donors: Design Fundamentals for Meaningful Giving

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: 

#1:  Worldview

#2: Wealth Stance

#3: Wealth Stock

#4: Why

#5: What

#6: Which Way

#7: Where

#8: When

#9: Who

#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...

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Ultra Wealth and Philanthropy: A Dive Into the Data

Uncategorized Nov 17, 2022

 Many of us who work in and around philanthropy, whether we are donors, advisors or social entrepreneurs, haven't really looked deeply at the data on wealth distribution and what this means for philanthropy.

Thanks to detailed ongoing research series from Wealth X and Credit Suisse we actually know quite a bit about the distribution of wealth at the very top end of the spectrum, In this post and the video that goes with it, we'll dig into this data and explore some of the implications for philanthropy.  


Ultra High Net Worth Individuals: the .4% of the 1%

Globally there are just 264,000 people with a net worth of $50M+

Collectively these UHNW individuals have over $30 trillion in wealth 

UHNW individuals are overwhelmingly concentrated in the United States

The number of UHNW individuals and their level of wealth is still increasing despite global downturn

UHNW Individuals are highly concentrated in a handful of leading cities

UHNW individuals...

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"Funders" --Who Are We Really?

Uncategorized Oct 27, 2022

Chances are, if you are involved in giving money away you've been referred to more than once as a "funder."  Maybe this is even a term you use to describe yourself.  But what does this term actually mean?  

Funder: A Term That is Too Broad to Be Useful In Many Situations

This post looks deeper to draw some key distinctions that could be helpful whatever role you play in the philanthropic landscape.  


Funder Differentiator #1: Functional Role

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...

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Tools for Getting Real with Your Giving, Part 4: Design Thinking

Uncategorized Oct 13, 2022

Whose ideas are you committed to backing with your giving?  Even if you're pretty sure you already know what you want to focus your giving on, and how you want to do it, design thinking helps you develop new approaches by working creatively with others, especially those who are closest to the problems you are seeking to solve.

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...

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Tools for Getting Real with Your Giving Part 3: Critical Thinking

Uncategorized Sep 29, 2022

The Quality of Your Reasoning Process As a Donor Really Matters!

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.


So What is Critical Thinking?

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...

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Tools for Getting Real with Your Giving, Part 2: Root Cause Analysis

Uncategorized Sep 22, 2022

Root Cause Analysis: A Practical Way to Apply System Thinking In Your Giving 

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...

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Tools for Getting Real with Your Giving, Part 1: Systems Thinking

Uncategorized Sep 15, 2022

A lot of philanthropy goes wrong by failing to reckon with reality

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...

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Pushing Past Your Comfort Zone: 5 States of Mind for Donors

Uncategorized Sep 08, 2022

If You Want to Change the World for Real with Your Giving, That Process Begins With Your Own Psychology

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...

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Sponsorship 101: The Ins and Outs for Donors, Providers and Recipients

Uncategorized Aug 18, 2022

Sponsorship: An Often Overlooked Opportunity

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. 

Sponsored growth and learning programs: opportunity for a win-win-win

  • For the recipient: services and support centered on your...
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