Without the human instinct toward progress we’d still be living in caves with nice views but very dodgy plumbing. But humans aren’t like that. We look up. It’s why we walked the moon. And why, sometimes gradually, sometimes in spurts, we improve ourselves – do better work, shape a nicer house, become better parents.
It’s the same with philanthropy. All philanthropy is good and should be lauded. But there are ways to move your philanthropy to a different level. To maximise the impact you have on the causes you care about – by optimising how you support civil society organisations that are reducing child poverty, promoting female education, protecting nature or promoting great art. Whatever the causes you care about, this article explains how you can move to ‘maximum impact philanthropy’ using the Stanford/Perpetual Philanthropy Toolkit.
1. Track your giving
Legendary management thinker Peter Drucker said, “what gets measured, gets managed.” So there are a number of reasons you should track your giving – who to, when and how much you give:
- As we saw in this article, tracking your giving helps you decide how much to give in the future
- Tracking can help you better schedule your giving. You can give more generously because you understand how your giving patterns line up with your cashflows.
- Tracking your giving also helps you focus on the organisations that share your values and more importantly, have a proven track record of effecting positive change in the communities you care about or moving the dial on issues that matter.
Measuring how you give will help you give more strategically – you can see where you’re giving reactively and how you can switch to a more planned and focused approach.
The Toolkit worksheets helps you identify which issues, causes and organisations you most care about and work out a philanthropy budget. The tracking tools (see pp 195) then help you focus your giving on those issues.
2. Time, talent and ties
As our experience of philanthropy deepens, we often start giving more than money. Philanthropy experts refer to those gifts as the three Ts:
- Time: how much time – volunteering, organising, fundraising – do you dedicate to the NFPs you support?
- Talent: your skills – whether they’re in marketing, fundraising, program management or service on an NFP board – have value.
- Ties: our networks and connections also have value, especially when they turn into funds, volunteers or new talent that NFPs can put to good use.
The Philanthropy Toolkit allows you to track these inputs as well as the money (or treasure) you give. That’s important because it allows you to line up all that you give – all your Ts - in the service of your causes. Which means your giving will have more impact.
Multiplication, it’s the name of the game
Even the most generous donor will sometimes look at a problem – female education, child poverty – and think, “Am I moving the dial here?”
One way to move past that frustration is to multiply the power of your giving by working with others. The first place to start is with an expert adviser.
Then there are the many ways you can combine your giving with others so you have more impact. These include giving circles, funding a foundation and co-ordinating your giving with other funders.
Section Two (from pp 84 of the Toolkit)* features comprehensive resources that help you work with others to do more good. There’s a section of the best thought leadership materials plus worksheets and checklists that help you collaborate effectively and comfortably.
There’s also a section on how you can learn from others when it comes to philanthropy. One of the most important benefits of collaboration is that you can learn from the successes and pitfalls, expertise and experience of other givers. Mixing with other philanthropists means you’ll get a wider view of the world and of the issues you can devote your funds and time to. You’ll learn more about organisations that are really delivering for their communities. That whole process doesn’t just make you a better giver – it can lead to relationships and friendships that last for years.
“Most of the time, clients who start giving seriously do so as couples or families,” says Marisa Senese, a Perpetual Private financial adviser from Brisbane. “But over time – and sometimes at Perpetual functions – they meet others involved in philanthropy and the conversations turn to the causes, communities and organisations they care about – and to doing things better by doing them together.”
In the past 200 years the world has made outstanding progress in some areas (the percentage of the global population living in extreme poverty has fallen from 75% to 9%). Yet as Perpetual’s Managing Partner, Caitriona Fay, says, “We still live with too many wicked problems.”
So whatever your passion, improving your philanthropy is good for the world and good for you. The Perpetual/Stanford Philanthropy Toolkit gives you the tools you need to have maximum impact by working with others and tracking your giving.
- Download a copy of the Toolkit (if you haven’t already).
- Talk to your Perpetual adviser about using the Philanthropy Toolkit to track your philanthropy and work with others.
- If you don’t have an adviser but want expert advice on giving, fill in the form below and one of our Toolkit-trained Perpetual advisers will call to discuss how you can give more effectively.
Perpetual's Catriona Fay explains why tracking your giving can make it more effective - and how the Philanthropy Toolkit makes it easy to do.
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Click on the button below for your free copy of the Perpetual/Stanford Philanthropy Toolkit.
*The toolkit is designed in sections but you don’t need to work through it sequentially. You can focus on areas that suit your interests and situation.
 How was Life? Volume 2 OECD 2021.