Seven observations on good giving

By: Adam Moxon Simpson   |

New Generation of Giving member, Adam Moxon Simpson shares his thoughts on best practice philanthropy.

  1. Understand your motivations and limitations. 

    Seek the overlap between your motivations, what you have to offer and what others most need. A passion for the task at hand is a must and will help drive and reward you, but is only part of the puzzle. Identify and be realistic about financial, time and other input limitations. Beyond altruism, ask if you also seek your own personal satisfactions whilst helping others – don’t worry, its natural. Be honest and make them part of your goals. Ego is not a dirty word but can muddy the waters – keep it in check, recognise the gap (if any) between your intentions and what the world needs.
  2. Set clear goals and metrics. 

    Define a philosophy to guide how you will spend your time and money – focused attention is better than scattergun. Define what success should look like and how you’ll measure what’s achieved – in both quantity and quality. That way you can monitor progress, learn from experience and adjust your strategies through success and failure.
  3. Get organised and get serious. 

    Good administration drives successful outcomes and that costs time and money – just as in any business. So, define and test your administrative model and budget. If you can’t afford a well-run approach, rethink your ambitions or way of operating (see also below 'Team Up”).
  4. Be creative in your operating model. 

    Some businesses include charitable goals; and, some charities run businesses. The lines are increasingly blurred. With heightened consumer and shareholder interest in valuing social outcomes, your financing options broaden. Loans, shareholdings and guarantees can be alternatives to the traditional tax-deductible gift. Giving time and opening networks can be just as important as money.
  5. Team up. 

    Look for economies and joys of scale in working with like-minded others. Liberated from self-interest and the need for control, opportunities abound. Collective action and funding can be more effective and powerful than individual endeavour. Check your ego at the door for the common good.  You may be able to achieve more if you don’t care who gets the credit.
  6. Build trust. 

    A true partnership between donor and recipient is critical to both parties – and the foundation for lasting outcomes.  Delegate and let those with experience guide the process.
  7. Remain humble. 

    What you contribute in money and other effort is a critical ingredient. But don’t forget those you support face the day-to-day grind of delivery and possess the on-the-ground knowledge. They know better than you what they need and what needs doing (and can leverage and create greater value from what you contribute).

Dec. 10, 2015

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