5 practices to change philanthropy from the outside-in
Paul Shoemaker, executive connector at Social Venture Partners (SVP) Seattle, shared insights gleaned from 17 years of working in philanthropy in a recent essay titled Re-Constructing Philanthropy from the Outside-In.
In line with SVP’s “philanthropic architecture,” Paul approaches his re-construction argument from the broad context of using human, social and financial capital to help nonprofits build capacity and achieve significant change.
For about 40 years, it was the world’s tallest building, and, standing 102 floors above Manhattan streets, the first to have more than 100 floors. Completed in 1931 (adapting the design that had been used to build the Carew Tower in Cincinnati), the building was an incredible breakthrough in many ways, including in the practices invented to construct sections of it offsite and then place them on Fifth Avenue.
A similar breakthrough is needed in philanthropy and comes, Paul suggests, through implementing a set of five practices. These practices, he admits, are both familiar and already used by some funders. Alone, they are incrementally helpful: it’s putting them all into practice together that will bring about change from the outside-in.
The five practices are:
- Give unrestricted grants: calling funds that are limited as to purpose or time Quite Damaging Dollars (QDDs), Paul says that funders should instead provide 100 percent unrestricted funding to grantees.
- Fund long-term: and he doesn’t mean fund for two or three years; the timeframe for investment should be at least 10 years.
- Connect with peers: instead of acting collectively as the exceptional practice, make it the norm; philanthropy needs sustained relationships among funders to be a core practice.
- Build great boards: foundation boards, he says, must “impose excellence” upon themselves, acting more as stewards and less as overseers.
- Listen to beneficiaries: funders can’t “fix communities” without having the recipients of services be participants, so they need to re-frame how they engage in communities to co-create programs and services.
What do you think? How do these ideas resonate with you? Use the comment box to continue the discussion.
Claudia Y. W. Herrold
Entry filed under: Grantmaking, Management, Professional Reading, Uncategorized. Tags: 5 practices, beneficiaries, boards, capital, charitable giving, community foundations, Empire state building, fund, funding, grants, leadership, nonprofit, Philanthropy, Philanthropy Ohio, Social venture partners, SVP.