Audacious Philanthropy: 5 ways to improve your giving

This article uses copy, content and insights from Audacious Philanthropy: Lessons from 15 world-changing initiatives, by Susan Wolf Ditkoff and Abe Grindle, which was originally published in the Setp – Oct 2017 issue of Harvard Business Review. The full text is available to read here.

Audacious philanthropy has helped to propel some of the most important social-impact success stories of the past century: virtually eradicating polio, providing free lunches for needy schoolchildren and securing the right for same-sex couples to marry, to name just a few.

Many of today’s emerging philanthropists aspire to similarly audacious successes. They don’t just want to fund homeless shelters and food pantries; they want to end homelessness and hunger. Steady, linear progress isn’t enough; they demand disruptive, catalytic, systemic change—and in short order.

But a growing number of these donors are frustrated. Despite having written big cheques for years, they aren’t seeing transformative successes for society. When faced with setbacks and public criticism, the best philanthropists re-examine their goals and approaches. But some retreat to more traditional fields of giving such as education, arts and culture. Others withdraw from public giving altogether.

Audacious social change is incredibly challenging. Yet history shows that it can succeed. To better understand why some efforts defy the odds and what lessons you can learn from the triumphs of the past, Susan Wolf Ditkoff and Abe Grindle conducted research into breakthrough initiatives which have been fuelled by philanthropy.

Their research gives 15 examples of philanthropy that changed the course of history and five changes you can make to achieve large-scale, swing-for-the-fences-change. Here’s how to optimise your strategy for audacious philanthropy.

5 ways to improve your giving

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audacious philanthropy

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