What is Giving Compass?
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Some thoughts were collected from careful observers of philanthropy — people who either make decisions about how to use charitable wealth or advise those who do — on the value of time-limited giving. Specifically, we asked: Under what conditions could one argue, objectively and convincingly, that giving a large amount over a limited period produces more value for society than giving smaller amounts over a much longer, perhaps indefinite, timespan.
Some formulas were suggested that could illustrate (but not literally govern, in any strict, mathematical sense) how a foundation might weigh that kind of choice. We focused on:
- the dollars the foundation plans to inject into a field or a community;
- the benefits those dollars are expected to produce directly;
- the risk that those benefits would not, in fact, be produced;
- the possible erosion of the benefits over time;
- improvements in the foundation’s effectiveness or efficiency in making beneficial investments; and
- the ripples that the direct benefits might later cause, essentially as after-effects.