Strategic Giving – Ensuring your Donations Get Results

In Australia, philanthropy tends to be associated with wealthy people, the majority of which are men, who give back to the community through generous and varied donations designed to help people less fortunate than themselves. It is these people who grab the media headlines and have the public profile to drive significant fund raising activities for a whole range of good causes.


What many people may not realise is that in Australia there is also a growing number of female philanthropists who may not have made the 2013 Australia’s Richest List but who generously share their time and money on a regular basis.


Over the next 10 to 15 years, it is predicted that most philanthropic money in Australia will come from women. This is because female philanthropists are already playing an increasingly active and prominent role in Australia’s charitable landscape. In recent years there has not only been a rise in the number of influential women giving their voice and money to charitable causes but also an upsurge of solidarity among female philanthropists.


A clear demonstration of this was the 2008 launch of The Australian Women Donors Network. Led by a board of several leading female philanthropists, this network was set up to encourage funding of and promote awareness about the effectiveness of projects specifically targeted towards women and girls.


Two years later, this objective was taken a step further with the launch of the Women Mobilising Millions campaign. This sought to encourage women to invest in women and girls for the benefit of the greater community. In February 2010, two groundbreaking events were held where three of the most influential female philanthropists in the US shared their inspirational story about 185 women seeking to change the world by each pledging $1 million or more to women and girls.


For many women, wealth, irrespective of whether it is self- generated, inherited or shared, is not necessarily about power or prestige. Rather it’s about providing for the people they love and supporting the issues they care about.


One of the key problems for women wanting to undertake some form of philanthropic endeavour, be it within their local community or as part of a national network, is how do you choose a suitable cause and, more importantly, how do you ensure that your financial support is used effectively and does make a real difference?


If your family, friends, neighbours and colleagues know that you are willing to support good causes, how do you politely refuse the constant flow of requests to support their chosen charity or fund raising activities which are not necessarily aligned with your desired philanthropic objectives?


These are some of the greatest challenges which we discuss with our clients, including appropriate ways to involve their children into the family’s strategic giving program. There are three key steps you can take to ensure your efforts achieve the best possible results.


The first step is to ensure that you have clearly defined objectives as to what you want your philanthropic activities to achieve. You can then use these to filter out potential donations or other endeavours that will not meet these objectives.


The second step is to have a suitable investment or funding structure (informal or formal) that suits not only your financial circumstances but your family needs and objectives. This will help to ensure your philanthropic activities remain affordable to you and will provide a legacy for your future generations, if required


The third step is to implement, document and communicate appropriate criteria that will enable you to manage expectations and measure the outcomes of your giving strategy to ensure your support is being leveraged strategically and effectively to make a definable difference to the causes you have chosen to support.


If you are managing philanthropy on a large scale, researching, identifying and becoming involved in a philanthropic activity can often be a challenging and exhaustive task. One of the easiest ways to overcome this is to seek independent and specialist advice which can help you select specific causes which you feel strongly about.


When working with our clients on their giving strategy and implementation process, one of our key objectives is to ensure our clients have an effective management process to ensure their charitable donations achieve maximum impact.


To help achieve this, it is important provide assistance to research suitable charitable organisations and liaise directly with the chosen not-for-profit groups, or if you prefer this can be outsourced to a suitable specialist who will liaise and facilitate these discussions and communication on your behalf. As required, they may also be the person who says “no” to the various approaches one may receive.


A growing part of Australian philanthropy is the desire for other likeminded Philanthropists to network and share opportunities and resources. Again, these groups exist on a private level, are linked with industry specialists or organizations such as Philanthropy Australia.