Philanthropy Made Simple

One of the biggest barriers to would-be or existing philanthropists is overwhelm. They are very clear on the positive difference that they wish to create in the world. However, when they try to spring into action, they can soon feel weighed down by admin and bureaucratic red tape.

The good news is that there are some positive stories, clear advice and top tips out there for how for how to give effectively, as well as some tools to simplify the process.

The current health crisis has seen some phenomenal responses from philanthropists strategically collaborating with one another to ensure that their input was timely and directed at where it was most needed.

An Example of Giving Well during the Pandemic
Let’s start by taking a look at some practical examples of those who’ve been ‘giving well’. With 170 members, London Funders, was established 25 years ago to bring together the capital’s many local, regional, and national charitable foundations (many of which were established by philanthropists) with other key funders such as local government, housing associations and corporate givers.

When Covid-19 first arrived, they drafted a funder statement, entitled: ‘We Stand with the Sector’, followed by a later one, ‘We Still Stand with the Sector’, providing much-needed reassurance at a time of great uncertainty.

The original statement was accompanied by over 400 grant-makers committing to show an understanding that many services provided by civil society organisations needed to adapt due to the pandemic. They also promised to be financially flexible and to take a conversational approach to their relationships with grantees. A further 150 signatories endorsed the second funder statement.

Over the past year or so, London Funders coordinated funders from across the sectors through the London Community Response. In February 2021, £46m had been donated by 67 organisations (many of whom received generous donations from high-net-worth-individuals). London Funders main takeaway is that data is king.

In their words, “To ensure that money has been spent well, we’ve been working with our friends at DataKind UK to analyse where the funding is going in real time, and to ensure that it aligns with needs at a local level.”

Best Practice
For those looking for independent advice for giving well, NPC’s blog post, ‘Grant-making Best Practice’ is a good place to start.  They highlight three points that are worth noting:

  1. Unrestricted multi-year funding
  2. Reasonable application and reporting requirements (ie making them fit-for-purpose, rather than overly admin heavy or too bureaucratic)
  3. Balanced power dynamics (the grantees are the ‘experts’ in their ‘cause’, so do consider if they can be given a greater say in ensuring that the grants are closely aligned with the issue that they’re seeking to solve and those they’re wishing to help).

In-house Grant Making
If a family business, philanthropist or foundation is thinking of designing and delivering their own grant making programme, then there are excellent software packages available that will make this process much simpler and more streamlined.

I’d recommend taking a look at embedding Brevio, described on its website as it ‘automates the initial steps in grant applications, to free up hundreds of millions of pounds every year in administration. It’s a matching platform that links funders and charities based on the impact they both want to achieve’.

These insights should help bring clarity to philanthropists, family businesses and family offices when they’re wondering how to hit the ‘action’ button to move forward.

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