Philanthropy Friday: Giving With Confidence


Giving with Confidence: A Guide to Savvy Philanthropy by Colburn Wilbur with Fred Setterberg

Giving with Confidence: A Guide to Savvy Philanthropy by Colburn Wilbur with Fred Setterberg

Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer.

When I started writing about the topic of philanthropy on this blog, I wasn’t sure where it would take me. My experience in the nonprofit sector and desire to give in a more meaningful way led me to start this Philanthropy Friday series and a giving pledge.

Blogging about philanthropy has connected me with some awesome people and businesses. It has also given me an opportunity to write with an amazing group of women as part of the Global Team of 200.

But I still find myself searching for a better way to give.

So when Fred Setterberg contacted me and asked if I wanted to receive a copy of a book he co-authored with Colburn Wilbur, president for 23 years at the Packard Foundation, I immediately said yes.

The book, Giving with Confidence: A Guide to Savvy Philanthropy, draws on decades of experience in the nonprofit and foundation world to help individual donors find “find deep satisfaction through investing in humanity.”

At first glance, I didn’t think this book was for me. It seemed more geared to the wealthy philanthropist or those involved with foundations. But I dug deeper and realized that there were real strategies in the book that I could use for a solid giving plan.

The book is divided into seven principles:

  1. Follow your connections
  2. Send your money where you can’t go
  3. Dare to be dull
  4. Embrace courage, ambiguity, discomfort and risk
  5. Learn from others
  6. Expand your reach with technology
  7. Change the culture

And while these principles may not mean much in a blog post, they make perfect sense in relation to philanthropy. There is a lot of emphasis on doing your homework in the book, seeking out advice from other donors and researching nonprofit organizations. Figuring out what you are passionate about and how you can make the biggest impact with your money. It even dares to suggest you put your money into a nonprofit’s operating expenses, something that many individuals and foundations rarely fund.

I have been fortunate enough to work with an executive director who has shown me what it’s like to run a nonprofit – the good, the bad and the ugly. (And it can get pretty ugly.) It’s amazing to me how little support there is to fund the day-to-day activities of a nonprofit organization.

Too often, in my opinion, people give without putting much thought into it. Donating money to a cause is great, but what kind of impact are you really making? Could the money be put to better use? What kind of legacy will you leave with your giving? How can you teach your kids to be philanthropists?

These are the questions I ask myself. These are the questions that many of the people I feature every Friday ask. And though my husband and I still aren’t quite to the point where we are giving as much as we’d like, the answers to these question help us become better philanthropists.

The philanthropy geek in me (that exists, right?) enjoyed all the nonprofit talk in Giving with Confidence. And thought I’m not quite to the level of philanthropist that was often described in the book, it does offer individual donors at any level solid strategies for giving with more purpose.

I’ll leave you with a couple of great questions from the book: What do you wish you could do for others if you had greater resources? More important, what can you do now that you haven’t  yet begun with the resources presently at your disposal?

Disclosure: I received a complimentary book to aid in the writing of this post. All opinions expressed, of course, are my own.

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  1. says

    This is really a good post. I know I usually donate based on pure emotion or personal experience, (ie I had a super preemie so I support March of Dimes) and I rarely do that much investigation into where the money goes. But I also know what they have done. Thanks for this information!


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