Are You Ready to Start Thinking About Being a Strategic Funder?

Being strategic about your philanthropy is a balance between focusing on each tree in the forest and seeing the forest for the trees. There are a number of important steps which will help you ensure that your philanthropy is focused and  managed in an organized and professional way. This may apply if you are first establishing a philanthropic fund or if you want to use an existing fund more strategically. The following steps will set you on your way to maximizing your philanthropy in a way that will be engaging and satisfying.  


Articulate your values, motivations and desired impacts

  • Identify and engage those in your family whom you wish to involve in your philanthropy
  • Explore your personal and group values and articulate how and where you want to make a difference in the world
  • Develop shared  vision and mission statements to guide you in your philanthropy 


Select the philanthropic fund vehicle that meets your needs

  • Review  the pros and cons of each philanthropic fund vehicle and consider which may be most appropriate for your particular circumstances
  • Establish the appropriate philanthropic fund vehicle


Develop your philanthropic strategy

  • Consider the best practices in philanthropy

  • Develop policies and procedures for grant making (including how and when decisions are made)

  • Develop grant proposal forms, report forms and template contracts to support your funding  strategy


Guide operations and governance

  • Develop guidelines and procedures for productive communication and family harmony

  • Develop plans for operations and board policies to support effective giving


Integrate the next generation

  • Discuss the goals of meaningful integration of the next generation

  • Develop functional plan to integrate next generation


Plan for succession 

  • Consider long term view for the philanthropic vehicle 

  • Prepare letters of donor intent to preserve founder’s vision 

  • Develop leadership succession ideas that consider founder’s long term goals and cultivate family cohesion and legacy.


As a philanthropy advisor, I  coach my clients through each step of their philanthropy journey. Going through these processes is engaging and rewarding in and of itself.  And - the outcome - strategic and impactful granting - is extremely gratifying.  Not only do donors make important improvements to communities and the world  and  enhancing the lives of others, they also enrich their lives and those of their family.  The forest and the trees are in alignment.