"New Philanthropists" are the Community Leaders

new-philanthropists.gif Hopefully the debate between whether philanthropy is “donor-focused” or “community leading” has come to an end. (A debate that in and of itself requires a certain amount of hubris, as it assumes that donors are not part of the community, and certainly not capable of leading.) But just in case there is any lingering doubt, this article in The New York Times is just the latest in a constant stream of media stories that remind us that the new philanthropists “are no longer content to bequeath their money to favorite causes in their wills. Instead, they are creating a strategic plan for charitable gifts, to be carried out in their lifetime. They are choosing the problem they want to help solve, researching how best to solve it and involving themselves and their families deeply in the effort.”

The article not only highlights cases of individuals who are searching for meaningful ways to give away their money and their time to make a difference during their lifetimes, but points to the institutions that have figured out how to help donors do just that. These donors are planning and evaluating their giving “with the same rigor that they use in their commercial financial investments. They establish goals and seek out institutions that are efficient and effective at meeting them. After investing, they measure the success and then readjust their portfolio.”

But don’t just take the Times word for it. A recent U.S. News & World Report story focuses on wealthy generation X-ers who are finding it takes more than money to do good deeds--they also like to donate their time and see the results of their donations. Or check out the article in USA Today that points to the intersection of two key phenomena that are transforming giving: an increase in the numbers of folks who have money to give, and, “a greater consciousness that those who have should give.”

It seems that “those darn donors” (actually, why don’t we call them community leaders?) will increasingly continue to seek out high quality, high performing charitable opportunities, and high quality, high performing organizations that will help them achieve their charitable missions. And increasingly it is these community leaders who will transform the face of philanthropy, and the future of our communities.

Caroline Heine

Posted at 6:00 AM, Mar 20, 2007 in High Net Worth Donors | Philanthropic Strategy | Permalink | Comment