As the new year gets going, many families are finalizing their philanthropic plans. While it is wonderful to give to known and trusted nonprofits year over year, some donors are looking to refresh their giving strategy and find new beneficiaries of their generosity. With more than 1.5 million nonprofits in the United States, it can understandably feel overwhelming to explore on one’s own.
To help, below are six strategies to expand your philanthropic horizons, refresh your giving strategy, and make a more significant impact toward the causes you care most about.
- Consider different ways to tackle the same problem. While you may be fully behind the strategy of the nonprofits you have supported for years, it can be eye opening to see how different organizations focus their energies. For example, if your passion is food security, some likeminded organizations might operate as soup kitchens, while others focus on repurposing food waste. Refine your focus by utilizing curated resources like those on Charity Navigator’s search function.
- Look to other philanthropists for guidance. Some philanthropists make headlines, while others fly under the radar. Research those whose values align with yours and know that they likely did some due diligence before donating to their chosen charities. Consider smaller scale philanthropists and community foundations as well and dig into what organizations they are supporting. Remember all 990s (foundation tax returns) are public, so you can see where they are giving.
- Research nonprofit “accelerators” such as Greenlight, which finds the best-run nonprofits in the country and helps scale them in communities that need it the most. Another excellent organization is Social Venture Partners, which vets nonprofits and chooses the most promising and impactful ones to match with skilled professionals who want to volunteer. Take a look at which nonprofits they support to expand your list of potential grantees.
- Spend time learning and researching. There are countless books on strategic philanthropy to help broaden your approach, but there are also online resources for you to peruse that highlight nonprofits you may not have heard about. Check out The Chronicle of Philanthropy, National Center for Family Philanthropy, the United Way, the Combined Federal Campaign, and Stanford Social Innovation Review.
- Get involved. Join a giving circle to learn about the charitable organizations supported by your peers and pool your resources to make an outsized impact. Philanthropy Together is a national resource for finding and starting giving circles. You can also look to your local place of worship, community foundation, or professional associations.
- Ask your friends and family. Finally, don’t ignore an obvious source of inspiration and ideas – your friends and family. Ask them about the causes they support and the mechanisms through which they give. Seek insights from all generations of your family, as their approaches to philanthropy can vary widely. Some of the best ideas can come from those closest to you.
Learn more about how Cresset can support you in your giving strategy. Cresset’s Managing Director of Family Governance and Education, Whitney Webb, would be happy to discuss your needs in more detail.