My friend and colleague, Mark Kramer, just published an excellent new article on Catalytic Philanthropy. It’s an extension of his work in helping foundations and philanthropists to improve their giving strategies. Kramer’s work also complements the approaches I recommend in Leveraging Good Will and in this Fast Company blog on Leading Companies for Good.
Kramer urges philanthropists to take responsibility for achieving results, and praises donors who “think about how to solve a specific problem using every skill, connection, and resource they possessed.” And he gives an example of a Bob Patillo and the Rockdale Foundation, who expanded a tiny microfinance organization in the Middle East into a significant regional institution that is now supported by 18 foundations.
I agree with Mark. A difference in my approach is that I encourage donors to achieve the greatest impact in solving global issues by engaging on the boards of directors of nonprofits, and even preparing to lead them. Because boards have all the power. The power to establish the missions of nonprofit organizations–the problems that organizations will solve; the visions– the greater potential that organizations will achieve; and the strategies– the business plans, including the revenue models.
It is nonprofit boards that have the power and the responsibility to ensure that nonprofits engage with stakeholders; collaborate with partners; establish the persuasive case for support; and advocate for important causes. Nonprofit boards hire and work in partnership with the CEOs, who hire the staff/team. It is nonprofit boards that ensure the success and vitality for nonprofit organizations–in making the world better by solving problems in enterprising ways.
This week, I will immerse myself in the Clinton Global Initiative for four glorious days. For me, it’s like being a kid in a candy store. A number of the nonprofits and corporations I work with will be there. Three of my favorites include EngenderHealth, Root Capital, and the Appropriate Infrastructure Development Group.
Stay tuned right here for more about them and others, including an update from my last year’s post on Maria Eitel from the Nike Foundation.