Philanthropy represents an opportunity to make an unprecedented impact in our world. Americans donated approximately $358 billion in 2014 alone. Yet, despite tremendous innovation in the social sector, there are multiple barriers that block good intentions from achieving powerful results. As Paul Brest, president of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation says, "Giving money away is easy, but making a real difference is hard work." Why? Philanthropy is deeply personal, "market forces" are absent or distorted, and ultimately excellence is self-imposed.

Bridgespan is trying to change that. Since our founding 15 years ago, Bridgespan has worked closely with hundreds of players that operate on "both sides of the grant"—donors and the organizations and causes they support. Armed with that unique perspective, Bridgespan collaborates with select philanthropists and foundations to help them and their grantees to achieve the greatest possible impact.

In 2011 Bridgespan launched the "Give Smart" campaign. The campaign started with the publication of the book Give Smart: Philanthropy that Gets Results co-authored by Tom Tierney, Bridgespan's co-founder, and Joel Fleishman, faculty chair of the Duke University Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society. Give Smart encourages donors and grantmakers to pursue a process of rigorous inquiry around six separate but related questions:

  • What are my values and beliefs?
  • What is "success" and how can it be achieved?
  • What am I accountable for?
  • What will it take to get the job done?
  • How do I work with grantees?
  • Am I getting better?

Read the full article about philanthropy that gets results at The Bridgespan Group.