4 Giving Models that Help Donors Make a Lasting Impact

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Increasingly, donors are looking to make more of a lasting impact with their gifts. At Return on Good, we celebrate this and, more than that, we help our clients do just that. If you want to go beyond just writing a check to a charity or cause, explore these four giving models that can help you do the most good:

  1. Strategic Philanthropy
  3. Venture Philanthropy
  5. Effective Altruism
  7. Community-Centric Fundraising

In each of these giving models, donors are more involved and engaged and their decisions are more likely to be based on research and data. Let’s take a closer look at each one and, by doing so, you may be inspired to take your giving in a different direction.

  • Strategic Philanthropy (aka: Strategic Giving): This phrase came into prominence in academic circles with Peter Frumkin’s 2006 book, Strategic Giving: The Art and Science of Philanthropy. The basic idea is that you should have a comprehensive plan, based on data and research, to guide your giving—and you should carefully consider the vehicles, timing, and what your involvement will be during and after you make your gift. It’s a valuable framework to consider and it makes giving much more than a transaction. Interested? We suggest Frumkin’s more accessible book, The Essence of Strategic Giving: A Practical Guide for Donors and Fundraisers.
  • Venture Philanthropy: In this model, charities are thought of as businesses you’re investing in. As a donor, you’re actively involved—and stay involved, helping to guide and organize the effort. Your giving might actually take the form of a B Corp, a green company, or a charitable startup. The key shift here is that rather than just giving cash to a charity, you become a business partner in the good being done. Some philanthropists even maintain companies and foundations at the same time to do good.
  • Effective Altruism: From working to prevent the next pandemic to providing medical supplies to poor countries, effective altruism is a movement focused on finding the best ways to help others and putting them into practice. It’s not about how much you give but about using the time and money you give as effectively as possible. With a critical eye to the long-term impact of innovation, and a great emphasis on commercial generation of philanthropic resources, the movement says bold things like “your career choice is your greatest moral decision.”
  • Community-Centric Fundraising: Born out of the collaboration of experienced fundraisers and non-profit leaders, community-centric fundraising is a movement grounded in equity and social justice. With a focus on the greater good, this fundraising model prioritizes the entire community over individual charities. Competition between charities is de-emphasized, and each stakeholder (e.g., volunteers, donors, staff, and board members) has an equal seat at the table.

It’s important to note that there is some significant overlap within these strategies, and some might actually conflict with each other. At Return on Good, we’re most interested in seeing how philanthropy is changing to be more effective, joyful, and impactful, and each model has something to offer.   Overall, the emphasis is on greater donor involvement, a less strict barrier between commercial and philanthropic work, not automatically trusting charities, and looking for the greater impact that giving can have down the road. In a nutshell: There’s more emphasis on research, communication and collaboration—and that’s what we’re all about at Return on Good.

Ready to do the most good?

Return on Good has a group of experts ready to lean into your values, the demonstrated good you can do, and the missions of incredible causes. It’s time to give smarter, and we’re ready to help. Contact us today to learn how to Give Smarter through our proven research and planning process.