Giving Compass' Take:

Kris Putnam-Walkerly provides suggestions for grantmakers and foundation members of ways to avoid potential mistakes during the process and increase impact philanthropy.  

•  How can grantmakers connect with each other to share these strategies? 

• PEAK Grantmaking also released a list of grantmaking pitfalls to avoid.

The term “strategic philanthropy” is everywhere these days. That’s not surprising, since most funders are looking for ways to increase their impact philanthropy.

Being more strategic can be a complex undertaking — and like every complex undertaking, shifting toward strategic grantmaking comes with multiple pitfalls and opportunities to make mistakes. That’s okay. Mistakes can provide valuable information for ongoing learning, which is a key part of strategic grantmaking. Acknowledging and acting on them only serves to make your efforts stronger.

That said, there are some common pitfalls that any foundation can avoid with a little forethought:

  • Not asking “why”. There is a tendency when discussing new ideas for philanthropy to rush headlong into strategies and tactics without carefully thinking through the why behind the strategy.
  • Putting all your eggs in one basket. Throwing caution to the wind and engaging full bore in a new strategy may be tempting for some, but when it comes to long-term effectiveness and impact, a slower, more intentional shift will bring greater clarity for your team and greater support from your community.
  • Not communicating. The beginning of an exploration into strategic grantmaking is the time to step up communication and transparency.
  • Being too prescriptive. There is a difference between identifying an issue and identifying a solution.
  • Believing you can’t make a difference. If you don’t believe it, no one else will either. When it comes to strategic grantmaking, there’s no such thing as too small, too conservative, or too restricted in scope to make a difference.

Read the full article about impact philanthropy by Kris Putnam-Walkerly at Putnam Consulting Group.