Blog Posts: Strategic Giving
Reinventing Philanthropy gets under your skin like a dentist’s advice to floss. You know in your head you should do it but don’t always feel like taking the time.
Eric Friedman simply wants giving to be effective. What does that mean? He wants people to engage in thinking critically about the world’s greatest needs and our best solutions. He is frustrated. “Giving is too often about making the donor feel better and too infrequently about making those in need better” (12). So Friedman wants to reinvent philanthropy and make the new normal—utilitarian, issue-agnostic donors who support charities offering “the greatest help to the greatest number of people” (182).
How does Friedman motivate donors to practice high-impact philanthropy?
Where can donors get answers to their questions about charity efficiency and effectiveness? Intelligent Philanthropy. Intelligent Philanthropy now publishes up-to-date answers to the most common questions donors ask.
No other online platform tackles all these important questions. Only Intelligent Philanthropy presents up-to-date nonprofit performance in one simple page. Intelligent Philanthropy still offers 160 data points about leadership, finances, strategy and impact via downloadable 2-page nonprofit Analytical Overviews for paid subscribers. However, donors who want the highlights without all the numbers and trend lines can now get what they want for free. Intelligent Philanthropy's 2013 release of nonprofit effectiveness and efficiency data finally makes it possible to give wisely without investing much time.
International adoptions have dropped 60% since 2004. UN policies, government regulations and high costs are to blame. Millions of orphans suffer through life without a healthy family context. All these facts that Both Ends Burning, STUCK, and now Foster Friess are sharing are true. But you won't find my name on the STUCK petition at change.org or my footprints in DC during the May 17 "step forward for orphans march." I've learned too much to believe international adoption is a scalable solution for a world full of orphans.
Do you still enjoy your giving? In a world of professional philanthropy conferences, philanthropy journals and "giving gone wrong" headlines, giving can become one more skill to master or task to manage. My daily research into the performance and impact of grantees has the real potential to strip away the joy of generosity. It can become all head and no heart. Site visits can feel like audits. Grant impact reports can relieve the worry of wasting gifts rather than excite you about the difference the gift has made.
To be honest, you may wonder if it really matters.
Are foundations making good grants? I see positive trends to applaud and emulate in the latest Money for Good II study that surveyed foundation giving decisions. If you want to find out how many hours of research foundations are doing before issuing grants and how much their findings affect new gifts, check out my recent post about Positive Trends in Foundation Grant-making at the Council on Foundations RE:Philanthropy blog.
What if your donation to fight human trafficking paid the salary of a human trafficker? What if your donation to support widowed law enforcement families went to a felon’s bank account? What if your child sponsorship monthly donation and letters never helped the girl in the picture? What if you gave money to loan to a struggling entrepreneur in Africa that was actually embezzled by loan officers? In the last year, I have seen each one of these nightmares come true. It could have been avoided. Read how in my latest Alliance magazine article Giving poorly can be worse than not giving at all.
Do you want to know if you are supporting effective and efficient nonprofit organizations? You can. That is what the Nonprofit Analytics web platform is designed to do. I've stopped blogging for the past 4 months to launch it as soon as we could.
I have been working on this project for almost 2 years with my coworkers at Excellence In Giving. We have evaluated all other online resources for making smart giving decisions and decided that our platform would outperform all of them.
How do you identify a community's most outstanding needs? How do you know what can effectively address those needs? How can you best leverage your charitable giving to support effective solutions? These questions are profoundly difficult to answer... but we think we can. And we do it all the time.
Excellence in Giving, LLC has developed a community assessment process that begins with a client's topic of interest and ends with strategic giving recommendations. The process is captured in the following graphic:
Many lessons have been learned from international disaster response and recovery efforts over the past 50 years. Excellence in Giving hopes to make giving recommendations with those lessons in mind. What are some of those lessons? Here is a short list:
- Relief & Recovery: Smart donations go to organizations with quick disaster response (for the purpose of saving lives) and long-term recovery plans and experience (for the purpose of rebuilding lives).
- Overfunding & Underfunding: Organizations focused on the immediate disaster response tend to be overfunded (e.g., the Red Cross after 9/11) whereas recovery and reconstruction efforts are underfunded after the news stories stop.
- Cash & Commodities: Smart donations come in the form of cash and are better spent on commodities and services in the affected country to promote economic development in the process of relief and recovery.
- Foresighted Funding: Smart donations support recovery efforts focused on disaster preparedness and improved infrastructure.
- Culturally Informed Funding: Effective organizations to support have an existing knowledge of communities, cultural norms, and power dynamics that reduce unintended negative consequences.