The Professional's Guide to Strategic Philanthropy
Cliff Note 2: Why Donate?
Your Theory of Change The second step in becoming a more effective philanthropist after answering the “What To Do” question is to answer the “Why Do It” question.The answer to the “Why” question helps explain the reasoning behind the mission statement and defines the image of success or the “vision” for the future against which progress can be measured.
It is essential that the mission and the expected outcome be well understood very early in the process.The root cause of the problem, its magnitude, severity, and preventability should be well researched to confirm the necessity of the mission and that the issue is important enough to require attention. The literature should contain evidence that the specific interventions and policies being considered are likely to succeed. This is your theory of change, your reasoning for why you believe a certain outcome is the likely result of your financial support.
Not Short Term
The transformative nature of long-term, challenging visions can help boost the results from "outputs", to "outcomes", to "impacts".The real challenge over time for a funder is to stick to the work and the vision when the novelty has worn off and the anticipated results are still in the future.Long-term visions require patience and dedication to be fulfilled.
Define Success If a funder can answer the "Why Do It" question, he probably has a clear vision of the road ahead.With a clear vision statement, the success of the foundation can be measured because it knows the desired outcomes of its work before it begins.Thus, with “success” defined, the vision for the organization is much easier to write and to communicate to others.While the vision is beyond immediate reach, if it is within the realm of possibility it should challenge the organization to produce transformative results.
Answers to the “Why” question help define what the board or the founder views as the ultimate measure of success of the grantmaking strategy.
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