Monday, May 9, 2011

Philanthropy and Policy

This is the introductory post for what will be a three part series about the relationship between philanthropy and policy.

Written by
Martin Wera, Program Director, Charities Review Council.

When most people give to a nonprofit, they are giving to help provide a direct service. Either as volunteers giving their time or as donors giving their money, the intent is to address a tangible need in their community in an immediate timeframe. Be it volunteering as a tutor at a school or donating to a homeless shelter, these acts of philanthropy are an important part of our civic society – especially in the past few years with greater need across the country.

In addition to this, though, are a growing number of philanthropists – both individual and institutional –who are giving to support policy change while also giving to direct service needs. This is not a new concept, but it has been gaining attention given the budget conversations happening in Washington, DC and in state capitals across the country.

The Charities Review Council serves donors and nonprofits in strengthening philanthropy and, in so doing, our communities. For donors, we do this by providing timely, quality information on how to make smart giving decisions. Part of that information is through our reviews of nonprofits, but it is also accomplished by providing tools and resources to donors about burgeoning trends.

One of these trends as of late has been a conversation about what role does philanthropy have in relation to policy change.
Although policy change is often a slow process that can take years of effort, it is nonetheless an important piece of addressing our society’s needs alongside the direct service philanthropy that most of us are more familiar with.

Over the course of the next few weeks, we will be presenting a series of blog posts examining the connection between policy and philanthropy. We are pleased to have the help of Lea Johnson of LMJ Consulting who will be guest writing the posts. As a former program officer at the Wasie Foundation and a consultant to both nonprofits and donors, Lea brings a unique perspective. The blog posts that follow are meant to provide more information to donors, but also spark conversation. Please let us know your thoughts on this topic. Are donors giving to support advocacy efforts? If so, what are the reasons behind this decision?

Part 1: Become a Convener of Conversations: Making a Difference beyond Your Checkbook
Part 2: Advocacy and Collaboration—The Two Secret Ingredients for Leveraging Your Philanthropy

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