The needs of nonprofits to serve a hurting community have rarely been higher. Fortunately, at least for human service issues, donors have really stepped up to provide for basic needs (food banks, healthcare, workforce issues, homelessness, etc.). Though, as a word to the wise, in some cases funds are being diverted from other causes, the ramifications of which may show up in the future.
A good example of this situation is money which is currently being redirected or cut from women’s health services which will likely cause women to forego annual exams, only to discover their disease in a much more advanced state and therefore more expensive and difficult to treat, no less possibly a worse outcome. I’m sure you each have your own examples.
Notwithstanding the ever-present tug of too many nonprofits that all need funding, we are encouraging our donors to be more organized and intentional about their giving — to develop a strategic giving plan to guide their donations. Just as a good strategy does, we lead donors to narrow their focus on the important few causes they are passionate about (versus trying to be all things to all people) and then carefully investing a variety of resources — money, volunteer time, in-kind products or services, specialized expertise, etc. — for maximum impact. Deciding how to measure expected results from their investments is also important.
Perhaps surprisingly, we don’t necessarily encourage our donors to ‘cut and run’ if the outcomes aren’t met but to be tenacious in tweaking the plan and trying something different to achieve desired results. One such investment I’m familiar with was pretty disastrous the first time it was tried because the targeted population for a nurse training program didn’t work out and, in fact, washed out of the program in significant numbers. Changes were made to the target and the program was very impactful the second time around.
We are also gratified to find that many donors don’t automatically stop giving just because their ability to give is reduced but rather view these tough times as an opportunity for ‘shared pain’. In fact, when discretionary money is down doesn’t mean the community need is less, in fact, we all know the reverse is true.
So some commit to ‘go without’ themselves in order to give as much or more than usual. They might make coffee at home rather than running by Starbucks or eat out once less per week, donating the savings to charity. The Power of Half by Kenneth and Hannah Salwen provides great examples of this type of approach.
The generosity and creativity of people never fail to amaze and inspire me! What can you do to personally make your giving more impactful?
Related Inspired Legacies resources: