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Building a Bigger Tent for Effective Philanthropy

Monday, June 8, 2015

In this article, first published by The Stanford Social Innovation Review, Paul M. Connolly, Director of Philanthropic Advisory Services at NCG's member Bessemer Trust, discusses how advocates for effective philanthropy need to “build a bigger tent” to appeal to a broader audience.

Is the influence of strategic philanthropy—otherwise known as effective or outcomes-oriented philanthropy—waning? Some proponents think it might be. 

In the past decades, champions of the effective philanthropy movement have persuaded numerous grantmakers to focus their giving, develop clearer goals and plans, and assess performance—hallmarks of a strategic approach. Yet some funders have been put off by overly rigid, top-down, and utilitarian variants. Others are likely never to adopt a strategic philanthropic approach, as they have different motivations, goals, or bandwidths. However, plenty of funders may still consider and benefit from a more intentional and impact-oriented approach to philanthropy. To engage these funders, adherents of outcomes-oriented giving need to build a bigger tent. To appeal to a broader audience, they must shape their messages in ways that compel the hearts and minds of those who currently do not give with an eye toward effective philanthropy.