A good philanthropic adviser can serve as your strategic grantmaking counsel. They can work with your foundation to craft short- and long-term grantmaking strategies that consider your past giving, values, and future goals.

Philanthropic advisers also can provide more tactical services.

Take for example, my organization, The New York Community Trust. It leverages its knowledge of New York nonprofits to introduce family and private foundations to nonprofit executives who manage programs that align with their missions. We’ll also arrange site visits and facilitate meetings with potential grantees.

In other cases, we’ll serve as a foundation’s back office and administer a full-service grantmaking program. This includes identifying and selecting nonprofits, vetting applications, conducting site visits, administering the grants and paperwork, monitoring, and evaluating impact, and creating summary reports.

Your philanthropic adviser can also take on a more public role: taking nonprofit calls and inquiries, hosting informational webinars for potential grantees, and offering advice to nonprofits as they complete their grant applications.

Such advising relationships can be especially powerful for foundations with limited full-time staff on their payroll. Advisers can assist more established philanthropies that are looking to stand up a new program or reach a new community.

Here are some scenarios when such a partnership makes sense:

  • When you’re getting started. New foundations can consider a philanthropic adviser as it develops its grantmaking strategy and create the infrastructure needed to run an effective program.
  • When you need to act quickly or differently. An outside adviser can be especially helpful when you’re looking to address a fast-moving situation, such as in response to a natural disaster, or are experimenting with new ways of distributing grants.
  • When you’re creating a new program. Philanthropic advisers are effective partners for foundations that are looking to move into a new area of grantmaking and want to tap into different networks of grantees.
  • When you’re moving into a new community. Some foundations are well versed in running grantmaking programs in their home communities. However, they struggle to stand up programs in communities where they do not have a physical presence. A philanthropic adviser with deep relationships can make the move into a new community easier and more effective.

Read the full article on philanthropic advisors by Kerry McCarthy at Exponent Philanthropy.