All donors have a “philanthropic portfolio” that includes gifts that may not necessarily be aimed at maximizing social impact. However, as the health, social, and economic crises brought on by COVID stretches on, you may be wondering. asking yourself, “How can my money do more good?” Here are tips to answer that question well:
Focus on the goal
As the saying goes, “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” High impact philanthropy starts by asking, “What is the philanthropic goal of this donation?” That goal could be feeding the hungry, ensuring all kids learn, reducing poverty, improving the lives of women and girls, or any number of other worthy causes. Personal experiences often lead donors to commit to a particular community or a particular cause. It is fine to let the heart choose the goal. Once you are clear about the goal, your head can help you find the programs and organizations that are well-positioned to reach that goal.
A little research goes a long way
Unlike a decade ago, funders no longer need to spend days trying to interpret tax returns in the hope of identifying a nonprofit worthy of their gift. Organizations like ours now exist to do the legwork so that individual donors and professional grantmakers can get to impact faster and with more confidence. The high impact opportunities profiled in this guide—and many more on our website—offer specific options that our team has analyzed for program efficacy and cost-effectiveness. Looking to learn more about an issue or find additional nonprofits? You’ll find a wealth of free information on our website.
Link impact and cost
No individual donor or single foundation has enough money to solve every problem. To do more good, every donor needs to ask, “How can this money go the farthest?” Comparing nonprofit organizations can help answer that question, but don’t just look at their expenses. That’s literally only half the equation. Instead, compare what the organization spends overall to what it achieves. For example, $1 donation can translate to enough food for 15 meals at a global food bank. $500 can connect five new families to home visit services for new mothers and infants. $1000 can provide transportation and utility payments to help support an individual who has lost their livelihood due to COVID-19. Another way to link cost and impact is to compare costs with societal benefits: $30 in societal benefits for every $1 spent on effective crime-reduction programs. That’s sometimes referred to as ‘bang for buck’ thinking where the “buck” is the money a nonprofit has to spend and the “bang” is what it’s able to achieve with that money.
By focusing on the goal, doing a little research, and linking impact and cost, funders can make sure their giving reflects more than generosity and good intentions.