How to Maximize Social Impact Through Philanthropy
- Take a long-term approach. Foundations and philanthropists have a critical role to play in addressing social issues. Take a long-term view when developing programs – one that is not influenced by political or budget considerations. This can ultimately help drive success.
- Set clear, achievable goals. To be successful, focus on a limited and very clearly defined set of goals, prioritizing objectives that are aligned with your mission, strengths, and organizational capacity. Avoid distraction by setting out to accomplish only what is key; otherwise your talent and resources will become overburdened and ineffective.
- Use a data-driven approach. Your strategy should be research-based and data-driven. Make sure every new project is developed with the research to back up your method and intent. Risks can be necessary for success, but ensuring a program is worth the risk is non-negotiable.
- Monitor and evaluate progress. Conduct rigorous and consistent evaluations for monitoring the progress and impact of your projects and your organization as a whole. Increase odds for success in the future by developing a way to learn from results – seek feedback from program partners, beneficiaries, and your employees.
- Use an adaptable strategy. Always have a tolerance for uncertainty and the flexibility to question and modify programs. Rigid models that assume recurring success over time as a result of a fixed “magic wand” approach often produce failed outcomes. Adjust your strategy and goals according to the program specifics, local context, participants involved, and changes in the program environment.
- Be business-minded. Make sure your investments match the same standards that you would expect out of a business venture. This includes hiring top talent, thinking strategically about your resources, and investing in facilities, fundraising, and advocacy.
- Seek partners who share your vision. Partnerships are critical to scaling up and better managing initiatives because they enhance resources and expertise. The only way to engage in a successful partnership, however, is to ensure that your partners share the same vision of success. To thoroughly vet a potential partner, ask why they are motivated to join in on a project, how they wish to build a program, and what resources or expertise they can bring.
- Co-create your program strategy. For philanthropic initiatives involving multiple partners, it is important to co-create the strategy. Ensure that the sharing of resources and talent is a sustainable partnership by working with partners through every step of a project’s development.
- Develop self-sustaining programs. Build capacity and structure your organization so the initiative can continue with or without your leadership and support.
- Clearly communicate goals and achievements. Track and share your successes and advocate for your organization and its mission. Build support for your project by ensuring that stakeholders involved share a common vision of success.
About the author – Moon Nguyen Moon Nguyen is a Hinrich Foundation alumna, who finished her fully sponsored Master’s Degree in International Journalism Studies at Hong Kong Baptist University in 2017. She is now a Marketing Executive for the Hinrich Foundation focusing on corporate communications and digital marketing. Previously, she was a journalist with four years of experience in both print and online magazines.