Ask Yourself: Are You a Results-Focused Giving Champion?

January 2, 2017 Michelle DiSabato

Whether you call it social investing, social impact investing, grants investing, philanthropy 2.0, or something else entirely, we see the new champion for social good living – and giving – by the following definition:

Results-focused giving means more than simply “doing good.” It means investing with purpose to achieve specific, measurable outcomes and impact. Further, in the results-focused giving model, for the dollars we invest into a cause, whether from a corporation, a foundation, or an individual giver’s pocket, we should see specific and measurable impact in the form of social impact or social learning.

Results-focused givers are the innovators of the philanthropic sector. What sets them apart?

The importance of ROI: alignment of dollars to outcomes

Traditionally, people and organizations tend to give back because of a belief that it’s the right thing to do, because they feel a responsibility to help those in need.

One of the key elements that makes results-focused giving different from traditional philanthropy is the focus on ROI. If you think of nearly any other industry, where would you make an investment and not expect some kind of quantifiable return?

Giving back should show real results, which means you should be asking important questions about the changes that should occur as a result of your investment, whether of dollars, resources, time, or all three.

Results-focused giving champions ask:

  • What are the intended results for participants of the program and how will we know when results have been achieved?
  • Is this the best use of our funds or resources, and will we see an appropriate return on our investment?

New perspectives on giving: diversification and sophistication of the field

All this talk about ROI and outcomes might sound more like a business plan than something you’d expect to discuss around championing a cause to achieve social good. And you’d be right. Over the past several years, with more diversification of professionals entering the philanthropic space, these business-backed perspectives have helped to shape today’s results-focused giving approach.

These new champions for results are bringing insight and experience from their previous careers to the table, and this has made philanthropic programs grow in sophistication and in their demand to connect the dots from funding to impact.

Results-focused giving champions ask:

  • How can we learn from what works in other sectors to make our efforts more effective?
  • Are there ways we can innovate and optimize our approach to achieving our intended outcomes?

The effectiveness of partnerships: collaboration between funders and funded

In giving space, where various organizations and people are working toward what are ultimately similar outcomes, collaboration is key. When results-focused foundations, corporation giving programs and nonprofits collaborate and approach impact together, all parties are empowered to do more good, more effectively.

When we’re all speaking the same language and approach giving programs collaboratively—setting incremental goals, defining steps in the program, agreeing to measurement and reporting schedules, communicating regularly—the focus and the effort can be spent on getting to impact versus tracking dollars donated and spent.

Results-focused giving champions ask:

  • Are all the participants in our program aligned on our impact objectives?
  • How can we get more done and achieve greater impact through purposeful collaboration?

Ramping up a results-focused approach to achieving outcomes and impact isn’t a flip-a-switch change – it takes time and commitment. As you deepen your emphasis on results, ask yourself some of the questions here, and you’ll find you’re in a good position to answer “yes” to the title question. 

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