It’s hard to be more succint than that.
Responding to the news that Buffet and the Gates are calling on their billionaire peers to give away half of their wealth, Kathleen Enright, president of Grantmakers for Effective Organizations has some advice in a post entitled: Calling All Billionaires: Fund Organizations, Not Projects. (She just finished guest-blogging at the aforementioned Duke Center for Strategic Philanthropy).
The first word of advice to the billionaire philanthropists of tomorrow: Focus on building strong organizations rather than supporting only discrete programs or projects.
That’s wonderful advice and it should be said (and heard) clearly and loudly.
Her other advice to these philanthropists is to provide targeted support for activities associated with “effectiveness-boosting” ie: leadership and board development, strategic planning, etc. which “nonprofits put off or ignore when faced with restrictions on gifts combined with the urgent challenge of simply staying afloat”.
Yes, both these suggestions mean supporting strong organizations, instead of cherry-picking projects, but this advice still comes across as somewhat contradictory. Funders are first instructed not to direct funds to programs on the grounds that “if a billionaire (or any philanthropist) truly believes in the mission and the leadership of a nonprofit organization, then why not trust that organization to invest your money in ways that its leaders believe will get the best results?” (emphasis added).
And then secondly, funders are encouraged to sometimes direct (ie: restrict) funds to organizational capacity building. I’m a believer in investing in organizational capacity-building – I’m on the board of an organization whose mission is exactly that. I’m not necessarily against her second suggestion, but I would be interested in hearing how she would instruct funders to navigate that apparent conflict, of when […]