The Tenets of Impactful Giving Series Part 2: Being Proactive vs. Reactive  

Author: Gillian Howell, Head of Client Advisory Solutions 

Tags: Foundation MemberPhilanthropy BasicsStarting a FoundationTenets of Impactful Giving

Impactful Giving

In part one of our Tenets of Impactful Giving Series, we shared how achieving maximum philanthropic impact starts with your values or “guide stars.” And as you continue to seek ways to make a difference, it helps to understand the distinction between charity and philanthropy—with the latter having a strategy. Read on to learn more and find out why there is room for both proactive and reactive giving in the world.  

Reactive Giving
Examples of reactive giving are donating to support an unforeseen natural disaster or spontaneous visceral gifts. However, when thinking about your overall giving plan, consider using the 80/20 rule as your guide. This means that 80% should be supporting a proactive, strategic approach to your philanthropy—one that aligns with your mission and family values. The other 20% can be reserved for the more immediate needs where you know there’s a need in your community or the world.   

Proactive Giving
Being proactive is a key tenet of effective strategic philanthropy. It helps you stay focused and increases the likelihood that you will accomplish your philanthropic goals. The first thing you need to do is define your approach. To get there, you need to ask yourself some grounding questions:

  • What proactive steps do you need to get there?
  • What is your theory for change?
  • What do you think it will take to bring about the change you envision?
  • How and to what extent do you want to be involved?
  • Do you want to just contribute funds, or do you want to contribute time and talent also?
  • Do you prefer focusing on individual lives, or would you like to effect change at the organizational level, influencing societal systems or public policy?
  • Are you more comfortable investing in nonprofits with a proven track record or are you willing to experiment with new organizations and approaches?

The outcome of this soul searching will be a proactive, defined approach. Some philanthropists will go so far as to create a mission statement, which joins their values and interests in a clear declaration of goals.  

But whether or not you formalize your objectives, knowing exactly what you hope to accomplish will put you on the road to more effective and strategic philanthropy. 

Looking for More Tips on Impactful Giving?
Stay tuned for part three of our Tenets of Impactful Giving Series on goals and being outcome oriented.  

Want to talk to a philanthropic specialist?
Schedule a call with us here or reach us at 800-839-0054. Together, let’s #begiving.