Sunday, November 1, 2009

Bridgespan Authors Identify Key Ways to Make Philanthropy More Effective

At year-end, many Americans turn their thinking to charitable giving. Our society faces tremendous challenges, yet charitable dollars have contracted dramatically over the past year. Everyone is being forced to do more with less, yet even thoughtful philanthropists struggle with how to get the most bang for their buck. In a brand new Harvard Business Review article: “Galvanizing Philanthropy,” authors Susan Wolf Ditkoff and Susan Colby offer specific strategies to help philanthropists raise their game, at a time when leveraging dollars is more important than ever. Their three pronged approach:

Get Clear: Philanthropists need to define what success looks like by wedding what they care about (values) with evidence (what works).

Get Real: They need to pragmatically assess the resources and time required to bring about change and solicit feedback from the field.

Get Better: They need to commit to systematic improvement and regularly review their entire funding strategy in light of both outside perspectives and nonfinancial assets.

It sounds simple, but it’s not. The authors point out that it takes discipline to create lasting change, and even the most well intentioned philanthropists fall prey to subtle traps along the way. Read more here.