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 to your precise specifications.
When Funders Take on the Roles of Accelerator and Advisor Additional Pathways to Impact Open Up
Strategic philanthropy is NOT the only way for funders to maximize their impact.
Additional possibilities open up when funders take on the roles of accelerator and advisor.
Lots more on these alternative approaches in this post
More about these entity types and the possibilities and issues that go along with these different structural forms in this post.
Another key distinguishing factor among "funders" is how they make decisions--and what role particular individuals play in that process. For these purposes it's helpful to distinguish between 4 different kinds of paid staff and advisors: hired help, faithful stewards, trusted advisors and delegated decision makers. Lots more on the distinctions between these roles in this post.
It's also helpful to recognize the different roles in the decision making process, and in some cases even to chart out the level of authority and role that specific individuals play in that process.
Propose: The person is responsible for bringing forward a proposed course of action.
Decide: This person makes decisions.
When you put this all together, it becomes pretty clear why simply referring to yourself or someone else as a "funder" can blur a whole lot of important distinctions!
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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!