Who is a smart donor?
The rich one, the venture capitalist with an aching altruistic feeling or the one who wants to leave a legacy? There is no specific answer to what motivates one to give. However, money alone will not bring real impact.
In a recent discussion, three foundation leaders, Sheila Leddy of the NewYork- based Fledgling Fund, Dick Donaldson, of the Ohio-based Donaldson Charitable Gift Fund and Janis Reischmann, of the Hawaii-based Hau’oli Mau Loa Foundation, came to a very clear conclusion: A smart donor is a focused donor. According to Sara Beggs at the Association of Small Foundations, organizers of a Webinar on this topic, “focusing your giving leads to greater fulfillment.”
Donors start focusing their giving when:
- They ask if their funds have had an impact
- They want to know how they could involve their children
- And, when they decide to say NO to the large number of requests they get
Focused donors look at common passion, shared values or immediate linkages to a personal issue. For instance, a donor who saw a family member die of cancer might look at giving to health-related causes. Others would like to invest in real people and see transformative changes on a first-hand basis. Smart donors want to be catalysts for real, measurable change.
Smart donors conduct a through scan of their environment. They talk to people running non-profit entities, try to get involved and understand what they are doing before deciding to invest. Some others opt for extensive data mining before they decide to invest. They like to personalize where their funding goes, they want to be realistic about impact, would love to listen and are willing to make mid-course changes if things don’t work out.
In conclusion, a focused donor is a smart donor. The donor builds expertise in an area of philanthropic investment, becomes an effective partner and nurtures long-term relationships.