Generosity and innovation are fueling exponential progress in addressing the most complex and intractable problems we face today. Growing at a commensurate pace is the drive to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of donors, the advisors who support them and nonprofits in creating the impact they envision. Giving with Impact is a podcast created by Schwab Charitable and Stanford Social Innovation Review to engage the philanthropic sector in an ongoing discussion around maximizing charitable impact. The series creates a collaborative space for leading voices from across the philanthropic ecosystem to engage in both aspirational and practical conversations around relevant topics at the heart of achieving more effective philanthropy.
Investing with Impact: Doing Well by Doing Good
In its broadest sense, the field of impact investing can be defined as an investment strategy that seeks to generate financial returns while also creating a positive social or environmental impact. Impact investing is attracting growing numbers of organizations and increasing amounts of money. By some estimates there are nearly 200 registered impact investment funds, and many foundations, networks, and mainstream financial institutions are active in the field. Impact investing contains a range of expectations about appropriate financial and social returns. Some investors are drawn by the hope of earning substantial financial returns by investing in businesses that have a social mission, while others are drawn by the desire to achieve more sustainable impact than they could achieve through philanthropy alone. Although the growing interest in impact investing represents an opportunity for the social good sector and an important source of growth capital for social ventures, the excitement that surrounds the field is a growing source of concern. Exaggerated claims raise expectations about the ability of impact investing to provide both outsized financial and social returns, something that is not always possible. So, what should investors be considering when looking to have a positive impact in the world through their investments?
Participatory Grantmaking: A Shared Approach to Effective Change
If you’re a frequent listener of this podcast, or have attended any of our SSIR conferences, you probably know that one of the maxims about social innovation that I believe strongly is the one that states “the most effected are the most effective” – that those who are closest to the problems are often the ones with the greatest insights into what needs to occur to address them. In many ways, this is the ethos behind the idea of “participatory grantmaking.” Participatory grantmaking encompasses a range of models and methods. At its core, this approach to funding cedes decision-making power about grants to the very communities impacted by funding decisions. As with so many other sectors, the philanthropic sector has seen a heightened demand for greater accountability and transparency, with people wanting greater voice in the decisions affecting their communities. But as with any other approach, what does this strategy look like in action? And what can we learn about our individual approach as donors from organizations that have adopted a participatory approach?
Empowering Community: A Closer Look at Place-Based Giving
Traditional approaches to solving various social and environmental problems taken by government, philanthropy, and nonprofits have tended to focus on specific areas like housing, education, or health. But experience has shown us that these problems don’t exist in a vacuum. A recent article published in SSIR talks about the importance of placed-based strategies for addressing challenges faced by communities and outlines several new approaches being pursued to uplift these communities. Some organizations are achieving remarkable change by focusing on transforming place first and foremost, rather than focusing on specific problems or goals in a siloed manner. They pursue holistic place-based systems change. But what does this place-based approach look like in practice? And how can we help leverage resources and relationships to empower community and achieve lasting and transformative change?
Sometimes Cash Isn’t King: Contributing Non-Cash Assets
When thinking about making a donation to support a charity we believe in, most of us immediately think about writing a check or typing in a credit card number. Even when we proactively think about using other assets that we may hold as a way to fund our charitable giving, our instinct is to liquidate that item and donate the proceeds. But that may not be the most effective or efficient way to donate. Sometimes, cash isn’t king. And with the growing popularity of cryptocurrency, these days, “cash” may not even be cash
Better Together: Collective Giving and ‘People-Centered’ Philanthropy
Modern philanthropy provides us with a wealth of opportunities and approaches to help create the change that we want to see in the world. One such approach that continues to grow in popularity is the idea of collective giving, which often translates to giving circles. It’s estimated that there are currently over 2000 giving circles in the U.S., with over 150,000 people involved in these circles, helping to donate nearly $1.3 billion. Giving circles can provide donors with a way to increase both their knowledge and understanding of issues and solutions, and their impact on those issues, while helping them to connect with other like-minded donors in their community.
One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Determining Which Charitable Vehicle is Right for You
The vast majority of Americans tend to handle their charitable contributions using fairly straightforward means – opening their wallet or personal checkbook. But for many people, there may be advantages to the use of what are broadly referred to as ‘planned giving vehicles.’ Benefits for doing so can include favorable tax treatment of assets in the vehicle, or the ability to take a tax deduction in the current year for gifts that are made in the future, among others. So, what are these various types of giving vehicles, and how can you determine which one might be best aligned with your charitable goals and objectives? Are they mutually exclusive, or can they be combined across a broader philanthropic strategy? And once you’ve decided which to pursue, how do you get started?
This podcast could have been so much more with the candlepower the producer and institution bring to it. If you want to hear some pretty banal observations into charity—wouldn’t go as far as calling them innovations or insights—punctuated by marketing from the sponsor (Schwab!) then this is the podcast for you. If you are looking for a better example of serious treatment of important topics in philanthropy, check out Tiny Spark with Amy Costello and Frederica Boswell.
It is a shame that philanthropy has such a dearth of good, consistent content.