The best way to begin philanthropy is to ask yourself some crucial questions.
How can you turn passion into smart and effective giving? Do you know everything you’ll need to know?
Are you sure?
Virtually anyone with experience as a philanthropist gives some variation of this advice. One example comes from Sir Thomas
Hughes-Hallett, Founder of The Emily Hughes-Hallett Foundation, who puts it simply:
“I wish that at the start I had been more rigorous in determining what we were going to support,” he says.
If you’re moving into charitable giving for the first time, the best way to consider it is as though you’re making an investment.
“You want the money you invest to produce specific results – just as you would when investing in a company,” says Emma Turner, the Director of the Philanthropy Service for Barclays Private Bank.
“And if you were investing in a company, you’d do your research and due diligence on whether it’s the right fit for you. Give scrutiny to your charitable giving in the way you would with your private investments,” she advises.
The purpose of philanthropy is to address a need. But, chances are, whatever problem you’re addressing is going to be tough – so you need a strong plan of action.
Just as a meaningful mission statement and clear targets help to focus a new business, you should begin your philanthropy with a ‘theory of change’ – a definition of the difference you hope to make and the steps to achieve it.
Basically, you need a plan – a roadmap of sorts – that includes concrete goals, a realistic timeline and reliable ways to achieve impact.
To create a theory of change, you need to select a cause. Ask yourself what problem you want to help solve – and why?
During this initial period of self-reflection, you should take your time. And really be honest with yourself – because the difference you make in the world is your legacy.
Finally, at this stage, don’t be afraid to think big – for example, you might want to address ‘education, but not just a single school.’
That’s a fine place to start.