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Daily Nuggets: A For Impact Blog

Transformative Catalytic Philanthropy


Nick and I have recently been having shorthand conversations with each other and with some of the most impactful organizations and institutions in the country.

We have been communicating our For Impact Point of View and our Quantum Leap Framework.

We are hammering (in our usual nice way) on our best coaching clients to find CHAMPIONS who literally want to help CHANGE THE WORLD… through an organization, an institution or program.

Most importantly, we have been having high-level conversations with high-level leaders and high-level funders around one word:

TRANSFORMATION.

Anyone in our For Impact universe who truly gets this TRANSFORMATION word, especially as it relates to funding, needs to read an article in the most recent (Fall 2009) issue of Stanford Social Innovation Review called CATALYTIC PHILANTHROPY.

I don’t know Matt Kramer, who is co-founder and managing director of SSG Social Impact Advisors, but I sure love his thinking! (Plus, the fact that he actually has the word SOCIAL IMPACT in the name of his company makes him a pretty smart dude.)

Again, if you’re serious about IMPACT and QUANTUM LEAPS and TRANSFORMATION… I’m begging you to read this article.

Some teasers:

    “Despite spending vast amounts of money and helping to create the world’s largest nonprofit sector, philanthropists have fallen far short of solving America’s most pressing problems.”
    Shades of Robert Egger! (Begging for Change!) Between 1980 and 2005, U.S. annual charitable giving and constant dollars grew by 255% and the number of nonprofits more than doubled to 1.3 million. Per capita giving in the U.S. is three times greater than any other country in the world. Yet, we’ve fallen from second to twelfth in the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development) basic measures of Health, Education and Economic Opportunity.
    As the ‘man in black’, Robert Egger would say a little differently, “We’re throwing $300 Billion at PROBLEMS… and we’re not solving any of them!”
    • Kramer profiles Tom Siebel as a catalytic philanthropist who completely TRANSFORMED the way the State of Montana dealt with its ‘meth’ problem. Read about it.
    • A lot of references to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the way they go about their giving. You can say what you want about Microsoft, DOS, Windows, bugs, security and Internet Explorer, but I love Bill Gates the philanthropist and what he, Melinda and the team have done to TRANSFORM the world.
    *I just met with one of their wonderful reps and advocates in the State of Ohio and I was, again, absolutely astounded, overwhelmed and amazed by what Gates is doing in education and in libraries (the two areas we were talking about).

I’m going to grab three quotes from the article that I will hope will spur you to read more.

    1. “Social change is a messy process in which the willpower of a DETERMINED and influential PERSON can often tip the balance.” (The POWER OF ONE!)

    2. “We should not pretend that CONVENTIONAL CONTRIBUTIONS will change the status quo.”

    3. “Instead, the much smaller set of donors (INVESTORS in our For Impact world) will have the desire and opportunity to achieve CHANGE… must step forward to become CATALYTIC PHILANTHROPISTS.”

    “If they do, they will begin to see measurable IMPACT from their efforts and the potential to change social conditions meaningfully.”