Giving Compass’ Take:
• Open Impact breaks down five stages of the giving journey and offers insights for donors at every stage of their personal giving journey.
• Which piece(s) of advice most closely suit your needs at this time? Who can help you progress in your giving journey?
- Formative Experiences: The most actualized philanthropists we interviewed had a strong sense of their values and the issues they cared about when starting their giving. In other words, they were already philanthropists in the broader sense of the term—which suggests that the emotional roots of effective giving begin long before donors actually come into wealth or commit to giving money away.
- The Wealth Event and “Pause”: For donors who are self-made, the ultimate inflection point in their journey is a “wealth event”—the moment when they suddenly acquire significant wealth via an IPO, an exit, the vesting of stock, or similar event. Suddenly, a primary goal in their lives—to earn money, provide for their family, or make a career mark—has been achieved. But this milestone also triggers a cascade of complex questions about money and meaning.
- Getting Unstuck: Eventually, most individuals or couples do get “unstuck” from their pause and start giving—often in response to an external mechanism, such as being approached by an institution with which they are already familiar. This might mean giving to an organization to which they have a strong attachment, such as their child’s school or their alma mater.
- Ramping Up: Over time, as donors become exposed to more complex issues, many of them begin moving out from their more familiar world to become more other-oriented, strategic, risk-taking, and actualized in their philanthropy. They become interested in issues and nonprofits that they don’t already know, and start shifting from reactive to proactive giving—wanting to make a difference on important causes.
- Actualized Philanthropy: In most cases, by the time a donor has moved through the developmental stages above—over a period of years or even decades—they’ve become intentional, strategic, and actualized in their giving.
How can donors match their own personal desires for actualization and altruism with the right nonprofit or cause? From the donor’s perspective, it can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. They need easy on-ramps or aids to help them navigate the larger market of philanthropic services—even a working map of the field’s network of providers. Supporting efforts to compile various disparate philanthropy resources into a shared portal—such as the new Giving Compass website—could also be helpful.