Taking Stock of Your Family’s Barriers to Strategic Giving

Recently I came across “Road Blocks on the Path to Strategic Giving,” a post on The Philanthropy Initiative’s Deep Social Impact blog. Written by TPI Managing Partner Ellen Remmer, the blog post offers donors and philanthropic advisors insight into possible reasons why donors sometimes get “stuck” in moving themselves to a higher level of strategic thinking and giving.

Giving strategically is complex—whether you are a large independent foundation with an abundance of resources or a small family foundation with limited resources–because philanthropy is called to solve large-scale complex, social problems that have no single solution; that will take multi-faceted funding streams and strategies to alleviate.

Donors often grapple with the reality that there is no concrete, quantifiable bottom-line in which to measure the efficacy of their giving decisions. Added to this challenge is the fact that donors are doubly concerned with solving society’s intractable social problems while remaining true to their family giving intent and their deepest most personal beliefs.

Aside from the most obvious hurtles that get in the way of strategic thinking such as generational transition or finding a passion, the blog post identifies five other barriers to strategic giving:

1) Challenging family dynamics
2) Isolation and privacy concerns
3) Arrogance and cynicism
4) Inadequate/imbalanced information
5) Reluctance to invest in the philanthropy process

The post is an insightful call to reflection, encouraging donors to take stock in their strategic giving and a reminder that reflecting on giving is a habit of mind that is easier said than done. As a donor, you are constantly challenged to do more with less resources and to give more strategically. The article also points out that “a sense of being overwhelmed, lack of time, complacency, discomfort with wealth, isolation from social issues or lack of inspiring role models are some of the critical barriers to giving.” The author then challenges readers to take stock of the barriers that they face in moving toward strategic giving.

What are the barriers to strategic giving that your family foundation encounters?

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