Giving Resolutions 2/5: Give Better, Give More Strategically
September 8th, 2015 by Jennifer Hu Corriggio
In continuing with our series on “giving resolutions” to inspire your current philanthropic habits, our second suggestion is for you to find ways to give better and more strategically. What does that mean? There are of course an infinite number of ways to improve your personal philanthropy, but here are a few straightforward and simple ways to start:
- Develop a written giving plan. In Resolution 1, we challenged you to give more, and also stated that before you determine how much more to give, you may want to more carefully examine your giving habits. This includes drafting a giving plan. It doesn’t have to be a perfect version, and can be revised as needed. The process of creating the plan will be productive for reflecting upon what you want to accomplish, what your priorities are, and what inspires you about your giving. Tracy Gary’s book Inspired Philanthropy, Creating a Giving Plan and Leaving a Legacy is a great resource to help you get started. We also have a Simple Giving Plan Template on our Giving Communities website that can help guide you through some giving priorities.
- Identify your giving style. In developing your written giving plan, you might want to consider your giving style. Our Giving Style quiz can help direct you: www.wisergiving.org
- Talk with others. Have five conversations with people over the next year to discuss your giving. Discussing your giving with others will help you reflect upon your habits and goals and often lead to realizations of what you want to do next with your personal giving. You could seek your friends’ or peers’ feedback, and solicit their thoughts on whether you are going about the best ways in making the impact or difference you desire. Our Giving Communities web portal – www.givingcommunities.org can also offer you suggestions for finding a group of like-minded peers.
- Evaluate and make changes as needed. Sometimes you give to a certain group out of habit. You could take the opportunity to re-evaluate whether these groups still fit your funding priorities. If you find that your funding priorities have changed, you may consider changing your funding to that group, either by lowering your funding or discontinuing your funding all together. Of course, if your funding has been substantial, be sure to consider the impact your reduced giving will have on their budget. The organization would greatly appreciate a note or conversation informing them why you’ve decided to stop supporting them.
- Focus in on groups you choose to support. If you decide to refocus your giving by discontinuing to fund groups that no longer fit within your funding priorities you will have the opportunity to focus in on groups to which you are really committed. We discussed giving more in Resolution 1, but another idea to give more strategically is to remove restrictions to your gifts. Nonprofit organizations truly appreciate it when donors trust them enough to allot their funding as the organization’s leadership sees as their greatest need. You could also make a multi-year gift to an organization to which you are truly committed.
There are many ways to give more strategically, but these are just a few ideas to kick-start your own ideas! Good luck and let us know what worked for you.
Transforming Civil Society in Western Balkans through Cross-border Collaboration
Originally published in Alliance Magazine.
September 2nd, 2015 by Otar N. Makharashvili
With woods of firs, pines and spruces in the background, representatives from civil society organizations (CSOs) from Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo and Macedonia gathered in Zlatibor, Serbia to pitch project ideas to a group of corporate social responsibility professionals from across the region. Emotions run high, moods swing, exchanges are tense and words of reassurance radiate through the conference space. But nothing about this scene is real! In fact, it’s nothing but a simulation.
This was just one program piece of a week-long Regional Sustainability Academy program, 6-10 July , an initiative of South-East-European Indigenous Grantmakers Network (SIGN), established in 2009 to create an enabling environment for the development of philanthropic communities in the region. Since 2012, with the support from EU and Balkan Trust for Democracy, partners from Trag Foundation (Serbia); Mozaik Foundation (BiH); Fund for Active Citizenship (Montenegro); Forum for Civic Initiatives (Kosovo); and HORUS (Macedonia) are focusing on supporting civic organizations in the region by strengthening the infrastructure on which they depend, supporting policy development and creating a legal framework in which civil society can flourish. Additionally, they are providing professional development for CSO leaders to enhance their ability to function at the highest levels of effectiveness and accountability.
Through the Sustainability Academy, 50 local CSO representatives from five Western Balkan countries learned the basics of fundraising, social entrepreneurship, nonprofit storytelling, financial sustainability, transparency and accountability. I was fortunate to be one of the speakers at the Academy as part of Bolder Giving’s Global Givers initiative– the aim of which is to establish and promote the culture of individual giving in the region. I taught groups the nuts and bolts of nonprofit storytelling and helped them explore strategies for finding the emotional core of their mission in order to connect with the people they wish to reach and raise money through stories of their groundbreaking work.
Here are some key takeaways form the conference and my conversations with various CSO leaders in the region:
- Emergence of grassroots civil society organizations: The region is experiencing a steady rise in local grassroots CSOs. Most groups at the conference were small, volunteer-run, civil society organizations, but their dedication to their causes is limitless. The issues for discussion included raising funds locally to promote rights to independent living and mobility of the blind and persons with impaired vision; seeking support for experiential and psychological help for cancer patients; promoting community-led decision making in environmental sustainability and local economic development; and protecting rights of local minorities to rural development. –The activism of small issue-based CSOs that rely on community members’ passion and dedication is steadily being reborn in the region.
- Shift from heavy dependence on foreign institutional aid to cultivating local donors: Foreign NGOs charged with implementing the massive international humanitarian and reconstruction efforts in the region have actively promoted and supported the development of civil societies based on Western-style NGOs, but the effort to promote local philanthropy is still somewhat new. The local CSOs are just now starting to consider the idea of asking for money locally. Yet, groups represented at the Academy talk about their work with such immense power, genuineness, passion and humility that it’s hard to be skeptical about the viability of their efforts. They tell stories of successful community mobilization and local fundraising campaigns, discuss donor engagement strategies and share personal and sometimes hilarious stories from their meetings with local donors.
- Increased need and appetite for regional collaboration: One of the biggest takeaways for the groups was the opportunity to collaborate with their regional peers, exchange ideas, face the past of political instabilities, discuss conflicts and shifting cultural identities, reconcile and build on the prospects of peace, democracy, and a sustainable future for the region. And while the groups focus on different issues and are separated by political borders, the challenges voiced at the conference were almost identical and thus, solutions that work may be scalable across the region.
- Roadblocks to building the culture of giving: General lack of trust in the civil society sector, deficiency of transparency and accountability, and poor economic conditions are all contributors to the lack of individual giving in the region. Solving this dilemma will take time as groups start to cultivate donor relationships, pursue more effective storytelling as a source of inspiration, and operate in sustainable, transparent and accountable ways.
But there are things governments can do too, especially as it relates to tax laws affecting philanthropy. While all countries in the region generally exempt CSOs from income taxes and provide tax benefits for giving by corporations and individuals to qualifying public- benefit activities the complexity of these laws remains a major roadblock, according to. the report ‘Tax Laws Affecting Philanthropy in South Europe,’ Bosnia and, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. ‘ The notion of public benefit goals/activities in tax law is typically narrowly construed’, the report says, ‘and does not include hosts of activities which are either enshrined in respective constitutions as constitutional values or are widely recognized by public as activities deemed for public benefit’.
In a region with a constantly changing funding landscape, promoting and establishing the culture of individual giving has never been more crucial. But it won’t happen overnight. The groups need more time to learn and to build relationships with donors, overhaul the image of the nonprofit sector, and collaborate. They need time to grow from a small start.. They also need more time to fail and learn from their failures, time to succeed and learn what worked, time to tell the stories of their work in more engaging and inspiring ways. Finally, they need time to collaborate with their peers through conferences like this one. However, the seed has been planted and steady growth is almost imminent.
Reference Link: http://www.alliancemagazine.org/blog/transforming-civil-society-in-western-balkans-through-cross-border-collaboration/
Diaspora Philanthropy, Giving Effectively Across Borders & Emerging Trends in Global Philanthropy
May 15th, 2015 by Otar N. Makharashvili
Over the past few years Diaspora giving has grown significantly stemming from the global mobility of talent and increasing wealth within diaspora communities globally. Simultaneously, philanthropic groups and community foundations in developing countries are increasing their efforts to promote local individual philanthropy and maintain ties with and fundraise from their diasporas as the internet is making it possible for dispersed communities to collaborate, organize and sustain ties across borders.
As part of Bolder Giving’s Global Givers Initiative, the aim of which is to advance philanthropic giving by promoting donor awareness and action in Southeastern Europe through donor storytelling (now expanding globally) we recently co-hosted a webinar with WINGS (Worldwide Initiatives for Grantmaker Support) centered around Diaspora Philanthropy: Strategies for Giving Effectively Across Borders and Encouraging Others to Join You. Our speakers Burcu Mirza, Board Member of Turkish Philanthropy Funds and Jenny Hodgson, Executive Director of Global Fund for Community Foundations explored their reflections on how to overcome barriers to giving internationally, discussed trends in global philanthropy and alluded to effective giving strategies for diaspora members.
Here are 4 takeaways from the webinar:
- Interest in Fortifying Local Philanthropy and the Emergence of Multi-Stakeholder, Multi-Donor, Multi-Owner Philanthropic Institutions Worldwide.
The past several years have witnessed an amplified interest in promoting philanthropy globally. Organizations involved in this emerging arena have grown rapidly and interest in individual donor engagement has been particularly growing, as evidenced by a growing demand for partnership with Bolder Giving on our Global Stories Initiative from various philanthropic groups in Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, and Latin America, and more. We have observed that many nonprofit organizations, foundations, and various philanthropic groups are endeavoring to both fortify the nonprofit infrastructure working on civil society promotion and build a culture of giving among the public.
Local community foundations in developing countries are increasingly stepping up as key players in international development through their multi-stakeholder, multi-donor and multi-owner models working on a range of community issues and most importantly, utilizing local leadership accountability and building donor trust.
- Utilizing the Strength of Established Institutions when Giving Internationally.
U.S.-based institutional intermediaries, such as community foundations, that specialize in helping philanthropists fund nonprofits or NGOs are simplifying overseas grantmaking. A growing number of intermediaries, whether they’re focused on specific diasporas, small grassroots grants, etc, offer global expertise and experience pooled with their comprehensive understanding of the legal process. They may be able to identify isolated local communities in dire need of support which you may never come across on your own since they develop grassroots, on-the-ground networks of partner agencies. “My idea of an intermediary is an institute with a lot of reach, professional management, the right stakeholders, and a systematic, thoughtful and methodological way of approaching grantmaking . . . You need the strength of the institutions to carry your work forward to be impactful. You cannot do it alone!” – says Burcu Mirza, who moves her entire international philanthropic giving through institutional intermediaries.
While some of these intermediaries charge an administrative fee for their services “the value of institutions that can professionally manage charitable money, deploy resources, identify groups, get the money to them and provide other types of support cannot be underestimated” – says Jenny Hodgson.
- Barriers to Local Philanthropy Promotion.
The lack of trust in Civil Society and the NGO sector in general continues to be the biggest roadblock for groups working on local individual philanthropy promotion. Often times it’s easier for groups to write a business proposal to an external funder than walk down the street to some local business and explain why their work matters. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that individual philanthropy is non-existent; in fact, in most instances it is part of the cultural frame of many communities around the world, but the difference is that it is driven by complex social and individual dynamics. So how do we change this? Community foundations may be a solution due to their above-mentioned multi-stakeholder approach which gives way to local leadership, sense of accountability and instills the sense of trust in donors.
- Remittances are not Charitable Contributions but there may be a link.
Remittances sent from Diasporas to their families shouldn’t be confused for charitable contributions as those moneys are rarely spent on charitable activities. They’re part for everyday life but surprisingly, there may be a link. Accordingly to a recent report on remittances and charitable donations in the UK: “Remittance giving and charitable donating are strongly related. Households that send or ‘remit’ money overseas are more likely to make donations to domestic UK charities than the general UK population is: 42% amongst remitters, compared with 29% of households in the general population.”
To learn more about the Global Givers Project, please visit our website at www.globalgivers.org or contact Otar Makharashavili at
Reference Link: http://www.globalgivers.org/#!webinars/cj3p
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