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One Guaranteed Way to Scare Your Grantees!
Kris Putnam-Walkerly -- Global Philanthropy Expert Kris Putnam-Walkerly -- Global Philanthropy Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Cleveland , OH
Thursday, October 31, 2019


unnamed-2Nothing creates heart pounding ghoulish fear in the minds of a grantee like hearing from their funder: “We’re about to start strategic planning.”

A funder undergoing strategic planning can put the nail in the coffin for grantees…at least temporarily. Philanthropic strategy development seems to last forever. During this time, and often behind closed doors, the funder might “suspend grantmaking” to “evaluate priorities and approaches.” This leaves nonprofits to wonder if this dark period will lift. And when it does, will the funder still support their organization?

Strategy development is important. It helps philanthropists clarify what they want to accomplish. It should lead to change. But it doesn’t need to leave grantees screaming at their desk chairs!

You don’t want to be a frightful funder. The next time you announce “it’s time for strategic planning” don’t forget these tips to calm your grantees nerves:

1. Communicate early and often. “Ghosting” your grantees while you go through the strategic planning process only creates more uncertainty. The earlier you can let your grantees know that you plan to refresh your strategy, the more time they have to get used to the idea and prepare.

2. Be transparent. Why are revising your strategy? Why now? What process will you use and how long will it take? By answering these questions, at the very least you will give your grantees an indication of how long they might feel uneasy.

3. Be direct. Be honest about what grantees might expect and whether they will fit into your new funding priorities. This will help them get over their negative reactions faster and embrace the fact that change is coming. You can also help by connecting grantees to potential new partners and new sources of support that might benefit them.

4. Be quick. The faster you can formulate your new strategy, the better for everyone. If you feel the need to explore aspects of your work more deeply over a longer period of time, consider doing so while the wheels are still rolling. Then, use the lessons and observations you’re gathering in real time to inform your new strategy.

If you prepare your grantees for your strategic planning process and continue to communicate with them throughout the process, your grantees will be less frightened of the changes. In fact, they will more likely accept and endorse your new plan openly.

Strategic planning doesn’t have to be so terrifying—let’s save the terror for Halloween night.

Want to learn more? In my forthcoming book, Delusional Altruism, I’ll tell you how you can formulate and implement your strategy quickly, so that you can get on with changing the world! Stay tuned for announcements to pre-order your copy!

Still nervous? Call me! As your trusted advisor I can give you the guidance you need to get your strategy off the ground and keep everyone working together along the way. Schedule a call with me and we’ll ease your fear of strategic planning for good.

© 2019 Kris Putnam-Walkerly. All rights reserved. Permission granted to excerpt or reprint with attribution.

About Kris Putnam-Walkerly

I’m a global philanthropy expert, advisor and award-winning author. I help ultra-high net worth donors, celebrities, foundations and Fortune 500 companies dramatically increase the clarity, speed, impact and joy of their giving. I’m the author of Confident Giving: Sage Advice for Funders, was named one of “America’s Top 25 Philanthropy Speakers” (along with U2’s Bono!), I write about philanthropy for Forbes.comAlliance MagazineDe Dikke Blauwe and am frequently quoted in leading publications such as BloombergNPR and WSJ.


Kris’ approach is refreshing! It’s the right approach. She makes sure our philanthropy makes senseto us and our partners, grantees, and community.

Sherece West-Scantlebury, Ph.D., President and CEO, Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation


Want to learn more? Visit my website to learn how I help funders, access free resources, and read client testimonials.

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.

Putnam Consulting Group, Inc.
Avon Lake, OH
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