January 23rd, 2017
Philanthropy is a strange field in that very little is done to examine what “good” looks like. Unlike in business where there are common models for effective practice, philanthropists tend to make it up as they go along – how can you go wrong giving money to charity? Good or bad, you tend to get showered in praise either way. But what does good look like? Those looking to practice good philanthropy need to practice five key habits to stand a chance of success.
Firstly, they become and remain experts on the causes or communities they wish to focus on. Just like a commercial investor benefits from understanding the markets they operate in, philanthropists need to know the communities they wish to serve and stay on top of the changing faces of them. Most philanthropists will pop along to an annual celebration, meet a charity CEO and hear a “beneficiary” talk at a gala, but none of these engender actual expertise. Great philanthropists are the ones who spend real time in the communities they wish to serve, time understanding the external pressures and changing environments that they are operating in, reading books, policy papers and pieces of historical philanthropic and governmental endeavors that will bring color to their insight. The best philanthropists become true geeks on their chosen subject areas.
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In conversation with Nicole Richards at the Philanthropy Meets Parliament Summit, Daniel Lee shared his insights on topics including the role of philanthropy as a driver of systems change which addresses root causes of social challenges, the relationship between philanthropy and government and what the new political environment in the United States means for philanthropy.