Strategic Philanthropy: Five Approaches for Making A Difference


Categories: Supporting Your Foundation

Search Topics: Strategic Planning

As the strategic advisor to more than 1,500 family foundations, Foundation Source is in a position to witness the remarkable diversity of resources, personalities, interests and influences that exist in this vast melting pot called “philanthropy.” Although our clients come from many different backgrounds and perspectives, they share a common belief in the transformative power of intelligent giving. In their efforts to drive change, we have observed that our clients typically adopt one of five approaches:

  • Checkbook philanthropists provide critical unrestricted support.
  • Responsive funders actively solicit proposals in their areas of interest.
  • Venture philanthropists strengthen nonprofits for scale-up and sustainability.
  • Results-based philanthropists narrow their focus to address root causes.
  • Collaborative funders partner with others to reduce redundancy and share knowledge.

Is one approach to giving better than another? We think not. Each can be “strategic” depending on one’s aims. The essence of strategy lies in understanding your unique advantages as a funder prior to taking action–your resources, interests, networks, expertise and skills.

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