Why I picked it up: I love the Center for High Impact Philanthropy (CHIP), and what they do. They apply rigorous thinking about how charitable gifts can have the most impact; after all, who wants their gifts wasted? Yet they are not rigid in their thinking about what impact. That is, there is a realization that the world is a complicated place, and that some gifts need to address desperate short-term needs, while others may have long-term consequences that really matter. They are all about what the donor wants to accomplish with a gift.
What is in the report: In a way, the giving guide is a "catalog" for end-of-year giving. It focuses on 14 nonprofits they have identified as making a significant impact in health, poverty, and education, providing a summary of what each nonprofit does, how effective it is, and how you can help the organization. Additionally, they provide a disaster-relief giving guide that I personally found absolutely fascinating and compelling.
Implications for museums: There is one thing that is important to CHIP: evidence of impact. Museums tend to not have the kind of rigorous data that evidence-based donors require. We can't say that a $2 gift can vaccinate a child against measles and rubella. We simply don't work that way.
But that doesn't mean we are not effective or not worthy of funding. Indeed, I can argue that what we do matters greatly. As a field, however, we need to develop our own sets of comprehensive measurements that share how exposing more children and adults to art, history, science, nature, and pretty much everything the world holds makes a difference … and that our methods for engagement are more effective than alternatives.
Read or skip? Philanthropy has changed quite a bit over the past several years, and CHIP is on the forefront of that shift. Thus, directors/CEOs as well as development directors should look at this to see how CHIP, as well as the world of high impact philanthropy, defines and frames effectiveness in terms of philanthropy. How should we reframe our case for support? What evidence do we need to support that case? And how does this enable us to fulfill our missions not only more effectively, but more meaningfully?
Full citation: "2018 High Impact Giving Guide." The Center for High Impact Philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania. November 2017.
Have a suggestion for my reading list? Email it to me at susie (at) wilkeningconsulting (dot) com.