While contributing funds is no doubt a critical aspect of philanthropy, it is certainly not the only one. Increasing the quantum of funds will only go so far in enhancing impact. Most givers are restricted in the amount of capital. A valuable step for philanthropists looking to heighten the effectiveness of their giving is to move beyond providing funds to applying their skills, networks and time to benefit non-profits. Involving one’s family in the philanthropy journey can also be a rewarding experience and play an important role in sustaining one’s giving over time.
Steps for philanthropists
Give time in a way that aligns with one’s skills
More effective givers understand that funds alone are limited in the change they can bring about. Such philanthropists look beyond cheque writing to contribute other forms of capital they may have in a manner that achieves synergy with the skills and networks they have to offer.
Resourceful non-profits are always looking for relevant experience and skills to minimise their overhead costs. Moreover, nonprofits aren’t always able to fully and effectively use money that comes their way because they lack a sustainable plan that takes into account strategy, information technology (IT), infrastructure, organisational structure and research and development, among other things. Philanthropists who provide guidance in these areas make an invaluable contribution. For example, several philanthropists with strong business backgrounds sit on the boards of nonprofits and provide strategic direction and advice on organisational development.
Share what is learned and encourage greater giving
Many Indian donors interviewed in the India Philanthropy Report by Bain & Company said they have peers who are their philanthropic role models and who inspired them to begin giving, increase the quantum of their giving and be more strategic whilst doing so.
Beyond inspiring others to give, philanthropists should share with their peer philanthropists what they learned from successes, failures, challenges and effective approaches. This can be a powerful way to replicate effective practices and avoid duplication of efforts or repetitive mistakes. In fact, according to a recent study commissioned by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, 92% of funders cited their peers and colleagues as their primary source of knowledge on philanthropy.
Collaborate with other stakeholders
No one philanthropist alone has the resources and influence to solve India’s complex and intractable development issues. Complexity means that solutions cannot be static and single-pronged approaches; they need to be dynamic and concerted efforts led by multiple stakeholders. Philanthropists can thus collaborate with other stakeholders to make significant change within the sector. Other stakeholders can include the government and state institutions, civil society, the private sector, academic institutions and other funders.
Collaboration is a complex process and requires investing considerable thought and effort into building healthy, trustful relationships among the key players. However, the advantages are numerous: Philanthropists benefit from collaboration by accessing greater resources, building knowledge and learning best practices, and achieving a wide variety of goals whilst effectively managing their own time and resources. The change that comes from a collaborative, all-round approach is also deeper and often more scalable than results from separate, siloed initiatives.
The government is one of the most significant stakeholders with which philanthropists can collaborate. Regardless of the cause, government funding and policy are bound to affect the results and are critical to creating powerful and systemic social change. Collaborating with the government can introduce an element of unprecedented scale for nonprofits. Advocating with the government and legislators is also the only way to ensure necessary changes in the law to achieve lasting change.
Tips and tools to help amplify the impact of giving
- Host gatherings to expand the community of givers.
- Join philanthropy peer networks.
- Share information about philanthropy through events or media platforms.
- Engage with nonprofit leaders to understand nonmonetary needs of the organisation.
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The CSR Journal Team