What it means and how to do it.
Notes from global philanthropy leader, Rebecca Eastmond.
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Rebecca, CEO and Co-Founder of Greenwood Place is a global philanthropy thought leader, offering strategic advice to a select group of entrepreneurial philanthropists. With over two decades worth of experience spearheading philanthropic advisory at J.P. Morgan, she is distinguished with experience, and shares some of the key ingredients to successful strategic philanthropic thinking.
We have been working with Islandbridge Capital since Spring 2019. Joe originally approached us on behalf of a client who needed a combination of practical and strategic support with their philanthropy and we were delighted to be appointed following a beauty parade process. We work closely with the Islandbridge team – coordinating with them on day to day administrative and regulatory matters as well as strategic ones. We’ve always been impressed with how the team’s strong values sit side by side with their thoughtful approach and their reliability.
We set up Greenwood Place six years ago with the conviction – based on deep experience – that philanthropy can achieve much more than it often does. Despite the scale of global need and the complex and important challenges we see around us in the world now, we often hear people say that they struggle to find good causes to support. Equally, we know that a great deal is given away without very much changing. Effective and impactful giving isn’t easy.
So, what’s the recipe?
Start with values.
We start every conversation with a new foundation or philanthropy by asking about values. We’re looking to have a discussion that isn’t about what you have given to, but about what matters deeply to you. A philanthropic strategy that aligns with your values is one that has a sense of urgency and importance that will make all the difference.
Understand the landscape.
Good giving usually means starting any journey into making change by asking a lot of open questions. You’re seeking to solve the hardest and most complicated problems that exist – the ones that neither business nor government have solved – and so understanding the context, what’s happening now and the barriers to change, is fundamental.
Choose the right partners.
Of course, it’s fundamental to ensure that the process of giving is delivered exceptionally well – in our office, this is the stuff of everyday life. However, it’s far more important to choose the right partners. When you’re thinking about giving, make sure you truly understand the problem that the organisation seeks to solve and that their solution and approach feel right for what needs to be done. And get to know the team – do they have the right leadership, governance, financial acumen, measurements and energy.
Focus on the problem – rather than an enticing solution.
Get obsessed with the problem that you want to solve with your philanthropy and be ready to change course if a particular solution you’ve tried out doesn’t seem to work. Stay open to learning about new approaches and ways of working. Listen to those you seek to serve, understand who is already operating the space and… stay humble. This work is complicated.
Build strong, long-term relationships.
Check in regularly with your charity partners (not so much that you cause a problem) with your charity partners and visit at least once a year – in addition to keeping in touch via webinars, newsletters and following social media. You’ll be a better partner for it. And stay with your partners for the long term – so long as they remain focused impact and outcomes this seems to us to be the most rational thing to do.
“In our experience, great donors take the time to see social and environmental problems for the complex and messy systems that they always are. They understand that there is no silver bullet. They are keen to learn, to evolve and to build partnerships, and they keep their eyes on the problem at all times. And they enable positive change that lasts.”
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