Giving Compass’ Take:
• Kris Putnam-Walkerly explains how we can tear down philanthropic bureaucracy to facilitate more efficient philanthropy to maximize impact.
• What are the biggest impediments to philanthropy in your organization?
• Learn about the best grantmaking practices.
We often hear about streamlining philanthropy — mostly with regard to efforts at simplifying grant applications, approval processes and reporting requirements. Streamlining is great. But when it comes to philanthropic bureaucracy, sometimes what we really need is a bulldozer . Some bureaucratic processes are so ridiculous, they just need to be demolished. It’s time we got over ourselves and got on with the work and the focus on impact.
1. Conduct a bureaucracy-breaker audit.
Gather a team and take an honest look at the practices and processes that you currently use. Where do they begin to lose their effectiveness because they are overcome by complexity or complications? How are the requirements or requests of one department hindering another? What can you do to remove needless requirements, approvals or other steps to streamline and get to effective outcomes more quickly and simply?
2. Commit to the 50% principle.
First, identify a single form of bureaucracy that currently clogs up the works in your foundation — maybe it takes eight months to make a grant, or you require at least three consultants to submit proposals before you hire the one you already know you should use or your board docket is two inches thick and no one will ever read it all. Then, brainstorm three things you can do to reduce it by half.
3. Think like a 2-year-old.
As everyone knows, a 2-year-old’s go-to question is “Why?” Tap into your inner child and apply this question to everything you do at your foundation. Are you about to make 14 copies of a grant proposal? Why? Are you about to send out an RFP for communications support when you already have a consultant you’re dying to work with? Why? Are you about to send your new grant guidelines to every internal department for review before you publish them? Why?
Read the full article about philanthropic bureaucracy by Kris Putnam-Walkerly at Forbes.
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