philanthropists: This time it's personal
"…I knew I wanted to spend
the rest of my life giving my time, money and skills to worthwhile
endeavours where I could make a difference. I didn’t know exactly what
I would do, but I wanted to help save lives, solve important problems,
and give more young people the chance to live their dreams" (1)
While personal philanthropy has always played a role in the non-profit
and development world, the tide has been quietly turning in ways that
have increased its relative importance to the fundraising efforts of
* Institutional donors have come under increasing pressure to reduce
their transaction costs – preferring to administer larger grants to
* The current climate of economic decline and uncertainty in many
countries is bringing into question the sustainability of overseas
development assistance programmes of industrialized countries and
undermining the capital reserves of established foundations.
* Recent foreign exchange rate fluctuations have made the spending value
of some secured grants unpredictable.
* Corporate and personal fortunes, combined with an increasing awareness
of widespread equity challenges in many nations and communities, are
fuelling a new era in philanthropy.
Engaging individual or corporate philanthropists is not simply a matter
of sending the same fundraising proposal to a different contact. In many
instances, new family foundations and corporate giving programmes
reflect a personal motivation to make a difference in the world. In
addition to being more ‘business-like’ than institutional donors
(e.g. requiring higher levels of clarity and accountability), individual
founders are often actively involved in their foundations. This means
that understanding the underlying motivation of personal giving is vital
to designing a sustainable philanthropy outreach and engagement
Philanthropists are often driven by more personal needs and wants than
other donors. They give, at least in part, based on an exchange of
values that allows them to:
* enhance their own sense of self-worth
* see themselves in the beneficiaries being served
* do the ‘right’ thing
* create a return (or benefit) on their investment.
Loyalty and trust are key ingredients of philanthropist engagement. They
are each commanded by organizations that:
* are seen as leaders in their field
* connect with supporters emotionally
* provide relevance and meaning
* help supporters to make a statement about what they value
* help supporters meet their own vision for the world
* provide them with a sense of belonging to something greater than
Engaging philanthropists should first be about building relationships
based on the assumption that they are interested in the success of your
organization, and as a means to mobilize resources second.
"Yesterday, the most successful
non-profits were those that donors knew best. Today, the most successful
non-profits are those that know their donors best" (2)
1. Former US President Bill Clinton in his book Giving: How each of
us can change the world.
2. From: Hart et al (2005): Nonprofit internet strategies: Best
practices for marketing, communications and fundraising.
is the Managing Director, Inís.