A jumpstart for new philanthropists

: A couple has recently received a large influx of cash and is approached by friends to make generous donations to several nonprofits. Neither spouse has the time or interest to do the “due diligence” to feel confident making such commitments, they would like to keep a low profile with their giving, and they want to be able to point to an objective process when they communicate their giving decisions.

Process: Philanthropic Intelligence helps the couple clarify their philosophies and priorities for “giving back.” The husband and wife identify a set of shared values and two very different issue focus areas. Philanthropic Intelligence designs a brief, first screen proposal evaluation process based on the couple’s values, issue focus and the fundamentals of excellent nonprofit projects. Donation requests that pass this first screen are invited to submit complete proposals and are advised of the reporting requirements for funded projects. For larger gift amounts, we carry out additional due diligence that includes site visits to organizations operating in Spain and a mix of first hand and third-party evaluations and recommendations through our international networks of funders working in Africa and Latin America.

In one situation, the results of due diligence are worrisome but the couple does not feel comfortable refusing the person who made the request. Philanthropic Intelligence identifies a project within the nonprofit that is a joint venture with a British nonprofit with experience in the region and the couple designates a smaller gift to that project.

Results: The couple formalizes their giving priorities and procedures, reduces unsolicited requests and has an “easy way to say no” to projects that are not top-notch or don’t appeal to them. Rather than wading through giving requests and meeting with eager fundraisers, they spend their time hearing progress reports on projects that get them excited and discussing “what’s next” with leaders in the field and other philanthropists who fund these issues.