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Strategic Philanthropy

5 Questions to Guide Your Giving in 2020

By December 10, 2019October 13th, 2021No Comments

Were you among the millions inspired by Giving Tuesday – the campaign that drove a record $511 million in donations in a single day? Did you give to a favorite cause, or perhaps find new organizations doing inspiring work that deserve your support? And does the end of the year have you wondering about what you might do in 2020 to create even greater change? If so, I would love to offer five questions for you to consider, to provide a little structure to conversations you might have with 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?

TPI created its Philanthropic Curve to highlight 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) becoming a donor – connecting your values, ideals, and passions with how you invest your philanthropic resources.
  • For many, what comes next is (2) getting organized, and learning to control the process rather than letting it control you.
  • Some donors push themselves to go further, (3) becoming more strategic and recognizing their obligations but giving increased attention to social issues or needs that concern them most.
  • The next stage is (4) focusing on issues and results, finding and investing in the best strategies you or your partners can find to achieve greater impact.
  • Inspired donors dig deeper by (5) leveraging philanthropy, 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 that aligns with your philanthropic 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. You might be described as a “restless” giver – someone who is always looking for how it can be done better. You might be a life-long learner with a strong sense of purpose and commitment to pushing ahead on how best to address important social issues. These are all qualities we see in funders who drive themselves to move up the Curve.

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? Protecting the environment and all of those who share our Earth? Programs and social entrepreneurs around the world are making a difference on any issue you can think of. Many would agree that one of the most serious concerns of our time is the growing wealth divide. Without doubt, the impact of inequity has renewed relevance and immediacy in our world, and the desire to give back is a driving force for many. 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 the world, I hope these questions prompt more ideas and questions in turn. With more than 30 years of experience working with funders with ambitious goals, TPI stands ready to help you learn, strategize, analyze, and leverage social change. We’d love to hear your questions, stories of how you’ve been inspired through your philanthropy, and your hopes for 2020 and beyond.