As 2017 draws to a close, you may find yourself making some final decisions about your giving for the year – and also wondering how you might give with more purpose. What a great opportunity to use that inspiration to start thinking ahead to next year, and beyond. Let me say this isn’t about making resolutions. This quiz, of sorts, is offered as a holiday conversation starter – between you and your team, your family, your advisors, or simply for self-reflection – about what motivates you and the impact you want to achieve with your philanthropy.
1. Where am I on the TPI Philanthropic CurveTM?
The TPI Philanthropic Curve highlights six stages in the evolution of many donors’ philanthropic journeys. We find it to be a very helpful tool for funders to assess where they are today and where they want to go tomorrow.
- The first stage, of course, is (1) getting started as a donor – connecting your values, ideals, and passions with how you invest your philanthropic resources.
- For many, what comes next is a desire to (2) get organized, and to learn to control the process rather than letting it control you.
- Some donors push themselves to go further and (3) become more strategic, recognizing their obligations but giving increasing attention to the social issues or needs that concern them most.
- The next stage is (4) focusing on results, finding and investing in the best strategies you or your partners can find to achieve greater impact.
- Inspired donors begin to (5) leverage philanthropy by collaborating with other donors, creating models that can be replicated, or finding other ways to catalyze lasting impact. By this point, you are a bit of an expert on what is needed and where impact might be achieved.
- In the final stage, you begin to see long-term, positive change, (6) achieving high impact and congruence with your goals.
2. How serious am I about pushing to go further up the TPI Curve?
If others would describe you as a passionate donor with ambitious goals and a sense of urgency, you have what it takes. Based on recent research built around the TPI Philanthropic Curve and presented at the Family Firm Institute’s 2017 Global Conference, Patricia Annino, Gerry Donnellan, and Jim Coutre would describe you as a “restless” giver – someone who is always looking for how it can be done better. Typical qualities they identified include being a life-long learner with a strong sense of purpose and commitment to pushing ahead on how best to address important social issues.
3. I have a lot of questions and ideas, so how do I figure out the right next steps?
Start by allowing yourself to be that restless giver! Examine your values and purpose. Seek out others who share your concerns, who can answer questions, who can challenge you to be both bold and wise in what comes next. Read up on established wisdom, and keep an eye out for those tackling issues from a fresh vantage point. Consider what you need to learn and how to expand your networks and horizons. Uncover key organizations and funding opportunities that can further your goals.
4. What if the questions I’m asking seem too large to grapple with?
You may think it impossible, but no issue is too large to try to tackle. A hopeful future for children? The eradication of poverty? Programs and social entrepreneurs around the world are making a difference in the areas of health, medicine, education – and the list goes on. Many would agree that one of the most serious issues of our time is the growing wealth divide. Without doubt, the impact of inequity has renewed relevance and immediacy in our world. TPI has begun to tackle this issue through a series of conversations and initial research. For whatever issues you most want to address, look for key intervention points and explore ways to move “upstream” with your philanthropy to address root causes.
5. How do I inspire others around me?
Everyone who has made a commitment to philanthropy has a story. Whether you are a passionate citizen, a professional advisor, or a corporate leader, there is much you can do to spark deeper conversations about the power and potential of philanthropy. Ask others to share why certain issues have more meaning for them, what their stories are, what changes they would most like to see in their community or in the world. By doing so you may not only help fuel that sense of urgency in yourself to move further along the TPI Curve, but indeed, inspire it in others.
As you consider what impact you would like to have in 2018, I hope these questions prompt more ideas and questions in turn. With more than 28 years working with funders with ambitious goals, TPI stands ready to help you learn, strategize, analyze, and leverage social change. We’d love to hear from you. Please send us your comments, questions, and stories of how you’ve been inspired through your philanthropy, and what you hope to achieve in 2018 and beyond. All of us at TPI wish you the very best for 2018!