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5 Ways To Make Your Giving Transformational
Kris Putnam-Walkerly -- Global Philanthropy Expert Kris Putnam-Walkerly -- Global Philanthropy Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Cleveland, OH
Tuesday, January 19, 2021


If you want your philanthropy to help change the world, you might need to change how your funding is structured. In addition to disrupting longstanding power dynamics between grantor and grantee, the way you structure your funding should align with the type of impact you wish to see.

For example, if you want to achieve long-term results, provide long-term support. If you seek to strengthen the organizations that are solving problems, provide funding that builds their infrastructure, capacity, and talent. If you expect the organizations you fund to achieve specific outcomes, ensure that they have adequate resources. If you recognize your grantees must be nimble and adapt to rapidly changing conditions, offer flexible funding and get out of their way.

Below are five different approaches to funding that will help you—-and your partners—-increase your impact velocity.

  1. Build trusting relationships. 
    As human beings, we depend on trust levels to guide us into new relationships and to see them through, especially when the going gets tough. To be an effective philanthropist means recognizing and changing behaviors that undermine trusting relationships. It may seem like a complex issue, but establishing trust isn’t that difficult. It involves being a patient listener, being authentic about who you are, being honest about what you do and don’t know, being willing to make mistakes, and keeping your word.
  2. Engage diverse perspectives and let go.
    Our society tends to equate the accumulation of wealth with superior intellect—-or at least with superior know-how. It’s a fallacy that leaves funders frustrated by the poor results of their philanthropic investments. So, instead of confusing poverty or other forms of need with an inability to innovate or a lack of motivation to improve, funders should seek answers within the communities they wish to serve. In other words, learn from and give up some of the control you have over your philanthropic funds to those who know what it will take to make change.
  3. Offer multiple years of support.
    The programs that nonprofits operate and the needs they address aren’t one-off occurrences. Why should their funding be? Instead of offering funding for one year, consider offering it for multiple years. There are substantial benefits to multiyear funding. When nonprofits have more stable, predictable streams of support, they can spend less time scrambling for money and more time strengthening their organization and making a difference for your community. Nonprofit leaders get freed up to lead. It also allows NGOs the ability to plan and make the best long-term decisions.
  4. Provide general operating support.
    Like multiyear grants, core support funding frees up the time nonprofit leaders spend on fundraising, so they can allocate their time where they’re needed most—achieving their mission. It also helps reduce the burnout many nonprofit leaders feel just keeping their organizations afloat. On top of that, it can be a lot easier on the funder. Instead of spending long hours devising complex outcomes and grant requirements, you invest in the organizations and leaders you feel will best advance your philanthropic goals.
  5. Strengthen organizational capacity and talent.
    Just as core operating support is vital to help nonprofits be agile, seize new opportunities, and keep the lights on, capacity-building funding helps them be strong. It means strengthening the organization’s ability to achieve its mission, as opposed to funding specific programs. What are these capabilities we’re talking about? Everything from leadership to strategy, including financial management, governance, evaluation, fund development, program quality, communications, technology, and diversity, equity, and inclusion—the knowledge and skills you need to be an effective organization.

While it’s common sense, too few philanthropists heed this advice. They nod their heads in genuine agreement. But then they continue providing funding the way they always have. Small grants, one-year grants, and project-specific grants. Grants with lots of hurdles grantees must jump over. Grants with unrealistic expectations compared to the funds provided. Grants that meet the interests of the funder while forcing the nonprofit to stray from its mission. That’s one reason I wrote the book, Delusional Altruism: Why Philanthropists Fail To Achieve Change and What They Can Do To Transform Giving, to help change these patterns.

To have a transformational impact on whatever issue you’re passionate about, you need to give in ways that create lasting and sustainable change. To do that, you also need to transform yourself and how you give. How you give matters.

Whether you are just getting started in philanthropy, want to refresh your giving strategy, or need to catapult yourself to your desired future, I can help. Call me at +1-800-598-2102 x1, email me at kris@putnam-consulting.com or schedule a call.

© 2021 Kris Putnam-Walkerly. All rights reserved. Permission granted to excerpt or reprint with attribution.

About Kris Putnam-Walkerly

Kris Putnam-Walkerly, MSW is a global philanthropy advisor and president of Putnam Consulting Group, Inc. For more than 20 years, top global philanthropies have requested Kris Putnam-Walkerly's help to transform their giving and catapult their impact. Widely considered to be one of the most sought-after philanthropic advisors, Kris has helped over 80 foundations and philanthropists strategically allocate and assess over half a billion dollars in grants and gifts. 

As a philanthropy expert, advisor and award-winning author, Kris's clients include the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, J.M. Smucker Company, Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, Heising Simons-Foundation, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, Walton Family Foundations, Avery Dennison, and Fujitsu, among dozens of others.

A thought leader in transformational giving, Kris was named one of America's Top 25 Philanthropy Speakers for two years in a row. She is the author of the award-winning book Confident Giving: Sage Advice for Funders and the forthcoming book Delusional Altruism (Wiley; February 2020); a regular Forbes.com contributor on philanthropy; a global content partner to Alliance Magazine; and authored a chapter on "Transformational Giving: Philanthropy as an Investment in Change" in a new book on impact investing, The ImpactAssets Handbook for Investors. Kris is also a frequent contributor in the publications of leading philanthropy organizations, including the National Center on Family Philanthropy, Exponent Philanthropy, Southeastern Council on Foundations, Foundation Center, PEAK Grantmaking, and Giving Northern Ireland. Kris also provides expert commentary about philanthropy in the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Washington Post, Entepreneur.com, and other media. Most recently, she was featured on NPR's Marketplace Morning Report and in Bloomberg Markets magazine. She co-edited The Foundation Review's themed journal on philanthropy consulting. In 2017 Kris was inducted into the Million Dollar Consulting® Hall of Fame, one of only 75 consultants chosen world-wide.

Prior to forming Putnam Consulting Group, she was a grantmaker at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and an evaluator at the highly esteemed Stanford University School of Medicine.

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Name: Kris Putnam-Walkerly
Group: Putnam Consulting Group, Inc.
Dateline: Avon Lake, OH United States
Direct Phone: 510-388-5231
Main Phone: 800-598-2102
Cell Phone: 510-388-5231
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