At its heart, philanthropy is always about a cause, but it’s easy to lose sight of our own impact when we get too caught up in things like board meetings, your foundation’s agenda, and grantee applications. Here are several tips you can use to guarantee you stay on track and be as effective a philanthropist as you can.
Remember, it’s not about you.
Philanthropy is about who is receiving help, not who is giving it. Foundation staff members are rarely the heroes of the story; the grantees are.
Forget about the glory and focus your energy on facilitating conversations, assistance, and any other useful steps grantees need in order to complete their mission. You are making a difference by helping others who can potentially make an even greater difference. Find pride and gratitude in that.
Keep it simple.
Philanthropists can easily get distracted by all the logistical steps foundations often impose. Remember that the ultimate goal is to make an impact, not put people through hurdles.
Sure, you have to weed out good applications from great applications that guarantee a true commitment, but there’s a fine line between requesting useful information and wasting everyone’s time by asking secondary information that isn’t necessarily important to the project itself.
When you feel like it’s appropriate, skip the bureaucracy and trust your gut. If you’ve been doing this for awhile, you should be able to recognize a good opportunity fairly quickly.
Have a sense of urgency.
Anyone who’s been in philanthropy long enough will hear of something called “foundation time.” In philanthropy, a lot of deadlines are self-imposed, so it’s easy for foundations to take their sweet time making decisions. Usually this results in far off deadlines that delay the impact of their projects. Try not to fall into this common pitfall.
Philanthropy should have a sense of urgency – you are trying to make a difference in the world that people need, after all. Change takes time, but the faster you start pushing for that change, the quicker you can look towards an even bigger and brighter future.
At the end of the day, effective philanthropy is about having a clear idea of how you want to affect the world around you and what steps you need to take to make that happen. These tips should help you get there as directly and effectively as possible.