Getting Started Resource Library

Summary

Are you looking for an orientation to make your giving more effective? This short guide pulls together our top resources, complete with summaries and web links.

Because all philanthropy is personal, decisions can be made and then revisited. Therefore, there is no "one-sized fits all" progression of resources for donors getting started or ramping up their giving. Because of this, we offer materials in various formats that all share a strategic orientation rather than purely personal. This short guide pulls together our top resources for donors seeking to ramp up their philanthropy, complete with summaries and web links.

Relevant video interviews with leading donors

First, we recommend reviewing a few sections of our "Conversations with Remarkable Givers" video series. "Conversations" is a breakthrough collection of over 1200 video clips with over 60 leading donors and foundation leaders, organized by theme and cause area. For those donors looking to get started, or to reset their philanthropy, it may be useful to browse the videos of donors discussing the below themes:

Longer guides for donors looking to get started

Give Smart: Philanthropy that Gets Results (book - Amazon)

Why to read it: You are a new or experienced philanthropist looking for a new way to approach your philanthropy. Give Smart is organized around a set of six questions you can confront to help you achieve results. The book is replete with many real-life examples and practical checklists.

You could use this guide to:

  • Provide thought-starters as to where you might anchor your philanthropy
  • Help you evaluate past forays into philanthropy with an eye to getting more involved
  • Prompt a conversation with your significant other / family members / key advisors about your philanthropy goals

Your Philanthropic Journey (link) (PDF)

Why to read it: You are looking for a short but comprehensive overview about getting started/getting more serious about your philanthropy. This guide will help you diagnose where you are in your philanthropy, and offers targeted questions to focus your work, stage-by-stage goals and traps to avoid, and real-life examples.

You could use this guide to:

  • Help you evaluate past forays into philanthropy with an eye to getting more involved
  • Lay out some near-term ideas to explore to provide more structure around your giving
  • Prompt a conversation with your significant other / family members / key advisors about your philanthropy goals

Finding Your Philanthropy Compass (link) (PDF)

Why to read it: You are looking for a step-by-step toolkit to becoming more intentional and strategic about your philanthropy. This guide walks you through a process to identify your values and beliefs, translate those into "philanthropic anchors" and strategic initiatives, which you can then prioritize among. The guide features a hands-on worksheet and checklist to support your progress as well as thoughtful guidance about when you might want to bring on paid advisors or staff.

You could use this guide to:

  • Identify and write down your philanthropic values and beliefs
  • Translate those beliefs into philanthropic priorities
  • Work with your family and / or use the work to communicate your beliefs to family members you seek to include
  • Communicate your goals to key advisors or potential staff members who you want to work with on your philanthropy

Short-form, "Frequently Asked Question" guides

FAQ: What are the five most common traps to avoid in my philanthropy? (link) (PDF)

Why to read it: You are looking for a quick read to help you leapfrog over the mistakes others have made. Traps include: "fuzzy headedness", flying solo, underestimating and under-investing, nonprofit neglect, and satisfactory underperformance.

FAQ: How do I work with my family to achieve high-impact philanthropy? (link) (PDF)

Why to read it: Philanthropy offers an exciting opportunity to bring your loved ones together to support a common cause. However, getting the best results possible and preserving social bonds can sometimes require trade-offs. This guide offers four tips for involving your family in your philanthropy, complete with watch-outs, questions to ask, and links to additional resources you may find useful.

You could use this guide to:

  • Familiarize yourself with the tradeoffs inherent in pursuing family philanthropy
  • Get clear on what your boundaries and "non-negotiables" are before involving others
  • Discuss your philanthropy with others in your family

FAQ: Which Legal Structures should I use to give my money away? (link)

Why to read it: You are investigating different structures for your philanthropy. This guide walks through the different categories: no structure, non-foundation structures like Donor Advised Funds, and private foundations. The guide offers a table that compares issues like financial considerations, strategic control, visibility and anonymity, staffing implications, expertise required, flexibility of leveraging the full balance sheet, and the potential for future generations to be involved with your philanthropy.

You could use this guide to:

  • Identify and familiarize yourself with giving vehicle options
  • Review the pros / cons of different approaches
  • Use as a starting point for a conversation with others in your family or trusted advisors

FAQ: Do I spend down or build a foundation in perpetuity? (link) (PDF)

Why to read it: You are confronting the question of whether to spend down most of your philanthropic assets during or shortly after your lifetime, or set up a foundation to give your money away in perpetuity. Offers guidance as you think through your options, and recommendations as to what you might want to do now if you select either path.

You could use this guide to:

  • Assess whether giving while living or giving in perpetuity is for you
  • Gather practical tips about what you should do next depending on the path you are pursuing
  • Gain guidance from others who have chosen each path

More Articles To Read

Leadership Development 

Libbie Landles-Cobb, Kirk Kramer, Katie Smith Milway 10/22/2015

Transformative Scale 

Jeri Eckhart Queenan, Abe Grindle, Jacquelyn Hadley, Roger Thompson 01/01/2015 | 2 min

Education 

01/14/2016 | 35 min
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