Starting your Philanthropic Journey

When deciding to become a philanthropist, there are many different aspects to consider. One of the first details to focus on is why you would like to give. Philanthropy can be very rewarding for everyone involved, but it’s essential to be passionate to achieve the best outcome. The reasoning for beginning this journey should come from a genuine place of aspiration. One detail to remember is that everyone’s philanthropic journey will be different. But, by taking note of these three stages, entering the world of philanthropy can be a smoother experience.

As stated in an article by Bridgespan, the first stage of philanthropy is the exploration process. During this period, it is advisable to be strategic about what you choose to target. It is understandable and expected to care about many different interests and causes, but by tackling too many ideas at one time, one can quickly become overwhelmed. Bridgespan recommends engaging in “pilots,” which allows a beginner philanthropist to learn about multiple areas they care about while simultaneously producing results.

After you feel comfortable with your exploration process, it’s time to start experimenting. This stage is usually where a philanthropist starts to make firm decisions about their funding priorities. The funder needs to ask themselves questions about what resources they are willing to invest in and what interventions and precautions they will take when working with grantees. During this stage, the funder’s primary goal is to develop a strategy to achieve the best results. In contrast, this stage contains the most “traps” due to trial and error, so it is imperative that the funder continuously evaluates their priorities.

Bridgespan defines stage 3 as “Swinging For The Fences.” Not every philanthropist makes it to this stage, but you know you by making grant decisions that align with your strategy and assessing your progress compared to your desired results. During this stage, some important questions to ask yourself as a funder include how to improve and ways to use your resources most efficiently. Although this is stage three, it’s imperative to avoid becoming stagnant. Continue to re-design your strategy and re-evaluate your priorities as your philanthropic journey grows. The main goal of this stage is continuous progression and knowing when to adjust your position. Philanthropy is an ever-growing learning process, but by staying focused and organized during these three stages, the funder’s possibilities are immeasurable.

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