Webinar Outtakes with the National Center for Family Philanthropy
Boldly Go helps today’s changemakers double down on impact, not infrastructure. Individual and family funders are among the clients who engage us for a wide variety of reasons, from setting vision and strategy to executing grantmaking, to taking administrative tasks off their plate. Strong external support like the services Boldly Go offers can help clients tackle the toughest problems with courage and conviction.
We operate amidst a larger community of philanthropic outsourcing organizations, from fiscal sponsors to advisors that enable donors to grow their philanthropic efforts without administering a separate entity for their giving or hiring staff. I recently had the pleasure of joining the National Center for Family Philanthropy and my peers, Yvonne Moore of Moore Philanthropy and Tony Macklin, for a webinar conversation about how donors can best leverage external support as a solution to effective family philanthropy.
To kick off the webinar, Tony provided a great overview of why philanthropists are increasingly looking for outsourcing options. At Boldly Go, we are responding to these demands by removing administration as a barrier to scaling impact for individual and family philanthropists and leanly staffed foundations. Philanthropy’s big players and brand names have always had access to support, but world-class expertise hasn’t always been within reach for the vast majority of individuals, families, and foundations with smaller staffs. Boldly Go helps these clients have outsized impact.
Following Tony’s introduction, we had a great Q & A round with webinar attendees. Below I share a few of my exchanges (edited for readability) from that conversation which speak to the issues we’ve heard the Boldly Go network grappling with at an increasing rate.
Funder & External Support Relationships
Q: What makes a good relationship between a funder and an outsourced partner?
A: This has been in some cases a technical conversation but it’s such personal stuff. You can do the technical things on a list of services that a person or foundation might need, but you have to connect and you have to develop a relationship. You have to talk about expectations and how much the philanthropist wants to be involved. Sometimes a client will say, “Well, I don’t want to be involved at all,” when in reality they do. I think understanding assumptions up front lays the foundation for a great relationship.
Q: The hypothesis out of the pandemic was that more donors were willing to come together because there was an urgent need. Will they continue to collaborate after the pandemic winds down, either with an intermediary or through a donor collaborative?
A: If we can make collaboration more efficient and lighter to get the benefits of working together, more donors will collaborate. This is because collaboratives can do things individual donors can’t. Collaboratives can have a different voice, particularly with policymakers, for example. Of course, collaboration isn’t the answer to everything. But where it can be powerful, it would be a shame if we don’t use this as an approach to create change.
Q: Do you have advice for dealing with a fiscal sponsor that works with grantees (rather than being engaged by the donor) and has more reporting requirements than the grantees really need?
A: I’ve seen it happen before, particularly with smaller fiscal sponsors. There are associations or groups of fiscal sponsors that trade information and lessons. It’s really important to be a part of those conversations. I wouldn’t say [over-reporting requirements] are a mistake but it’s a way of operating. And you can see different ways of operating by being a part of these groups of sometimes national or state fiscal sponsors.
What are new clients not thinking about?
Q: What do clients typically miss during the intake process? They come to you and they have something they want to accomplish, but what are they typically forgetting to ask you or ask themselves about?
A: Philanthropists often don’t ask about networks –being able to tap into people quickly across the country to save mistakes and see how other organizations have done things. Where has this problem turned around in a positive way? Can you bring those examples in, can you make those connections? I would also mention board experience—that’s usually a question which is not asked about, or engagement with family. You can do the technical stuff, but do you have experience working in a family environment or with a family foundation? That experience is critical!