January 5, 2012

2011’s Philanthropy Ideas Worth Pursuing

Alison Powell is The Bridgespan Group’s Philanthropy Knowledge Manager.

By: Alison Powell

Happy New Year! As you probably know, instead of ringing in the year with a spate of resolutions, we at Give Smart rang out the giving season and 2011 with the #30DayDonorChallenge. Each work day for six weeks, we offered small suggestions for things donors could try that might enhance their giving. Why? Because as we noted a few weeks ago, psychology (and my personal experience certainly fits with this) tells us that it’s often the specific, actionable, and small changes that stick and even build towards something big.

To see what might endure from our challenge, we wanted to highlight our last tweet— “What practice will I take away from the #30DayDonorChallenge?” Is there one thing that resonated with you that you might take into the new year to refine your philanthropy? If you haven’t had a chance to review all the tweets, and are still in search of your own resolution, they are all available here to review.

One of my own resolutions is in keeping with these ideas of reflection and taking small steps that build. It was inspired by this HBR blog post by Peter Bregman, published almost exactly a year ago. I hope to take his advice to set aside the last five minutes of the day to reflect on the successes and challenges, identify what I’ll do differently, and ask who I should thank or communicate with. Taking five minutes for such reflection may sound easy, but even in the early days of 2012, I’ve found prioritizing those five end-of-day minutes to be a challenge. But I’m committed to trying since nurturing daily learning and connection strikes me as particularly important.

In that vein, I would like to thank all those who participated in our #30DayDonorChallenge. Thanks to GOOD and to other exciting giving season challenges like the Case Foundation’s #Goodspotting for inspiration. Thanks to those who passed our ideas along like the Samuel Bronfman Foundation, the Gates Foundation, and Lucy Bernholz, among many others. Finally, thank you to those who offered ideas, provided great resources and/or hosted guest blogs, like Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO), Bolder Giving, and the Million Dollar List. We couldn’t have shared these ideas without you—and we learned so much from you in the process.

For me that success reflects one of the most enduring pieces of this challenge: The connections made and the ideas exchanged. Now that’s a tradition I’m excited to continue into 2012.

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