A smart donor is a focused donor

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:

  1.  They ask if their funds have had an impact
  2.  They want to know how they could involve their children
  3. 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.

Three tips for agile fundraisers

We are living in a world where change is the only  reality and here’s what is happening:

  • P&G says the American middle class is shrinking. According to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal, they are shifting their focus towards two consumer categories. First comes the rich and the next is clearly the poor. The “in-betweens” or rather the always struggling middle class is becoming the poor.
  • People are buying more irons, a tendency new to Americans. Iron sales are increasing and cleaners are having a hard time.
  • Your corner hair salon, most likely a franchise operation is slowly vanishing.

We  need to be agile and here are three tips:

  1. Connect with your greatest givers. Meet them, share their joys and frustrations about the economy. Remember, empathy is a rare gift. Tell them that things will work out.
  2. Have the patience of a saint even if you don’t try being one! This is a virtue we need to cultivate.
  3. Look for “abundance” in opportunities instead of  viewing things in one direction. In short, be nimble and adjust your plans and projects quickly.