1) Seek advice. If you were setting up a business, you’d probably take advice, so why should it be any different for a philanthropic venture, asks philanthropist John Stone. “If you don’t have a passion for a cause or even if you do, my advice is take advice from experts,” he says.
2) Choose your style. There are so many ways to get involved in direct-impact philanthropy that it can be overwhelming, reckons Josh Baron of Banyan Family Business Advisors. “One way to narrow the field is to develop an ‘investment thesis’ that is based on how you like to invest in general. For example, do you prefer to fund a number of start-up ventures and see which ones succeed? Or do you gain more satisfaction from a small number of big bets?”
3) Be clear about what you want. It’s important to think about what you want both socially and as a family, reckons NPC’s Rachel Findlay, whether that’s engaging the next generation or bringing the family together.
4) Start with the end. With each project, think about what it should achieve. As Katherina Rosqueta of the Center for High Impact Philanthropy says: “High-impact philanthropy starts with clarity regarding the end goal: What change do you want to see in the world?”
5) Network with your peers. Much can be learned from speaking to those who are active in high-impact philanthropy, reckons Baron. You might also meet possible partners to work with on projects.
6) Due diligence, due diligence. Make sure you carry out due diligence on charities before funding them. “This could include reviewing a charity’s website and accounts, or speaking to another funder to see what their experience of the organisation has been,” says Findlay.
7) Take advantage of existing resources. You don’t have to do all the hard work yourself. “You can benefit from the due diligence conducted by others,” reckons Baron. For example, the Mulago Foundation has created mini-prospectuses about organisations around the world that have demonstrated their impact. Use organisations such as these to identify potential recipients.
8) Learn from others. See what has worked and hasn’t worked in the past, to “avoid wasting money reinventing the wheel, or repeating others’ mistakes”, says Rosqueta. “Before committing funds, understand what approaches have generated results, what haven’t, and where new approaches are most needed.”
9) Set reasonable expectations. High-impact philanthropy is about the impact. But measuring impact can sometimes prove difficult. “Philanthropy can be high-impact even without the gold standard evaluation, if it involves clearly articulated hypotheses about what will create change, along with measurable indicators that can determine if those hypotheses are supported by the evidence,” reckons Baron.
10) Review. It’s important to stand back periodically and review the funding, reckons Findlay. Ask if it is working for you, if you feel you are achieving what you set out to achieve and if you are finding it interesting and rewarding.
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