Donors who do more

Working through one sector alone is no longer enough to address the multifaceted social and environmental problems we face today. Because donors can do more than give, they have a critical opportunity to move on from passive donor to problem solver.

To create systemic change, nonprofits today need catalytic donors in their court to leverage the full participation of every sector in society. According to Do More Than Give authors Crutchfield, Kania and Kramer, the number of billionaires has tripled since 2000 and nearly half of the 75,000 private foundations established in the U.S. were created in the last decade.

We’re also seeing growth in private enterprise where new corporate entities are created to blend profit with social purpose, as well as in government’s willingness to partner in nonconventional ways. Within the context of these societal trends, there is no question that donors are positioned like never before to help orchestrate an integrated approach to problems and embrace catalytic philanthropy.

These authors have distilled the six practices of donors who change the world for readers. Nonprofit leaders will no doubt discover ways in which they can nurture best behavior in their donors with this book. As we always do in our Page to Practice™ book summaries, we interview the author and Leslie Crutchfield provided some terrific insight. Here’s one of our questions and her answer:

CausePlanet: Within the six best practices of donors who change the world, which did you find to be the least common among your donor profiles and why?

Crutchfield: This is an excellent question and one I haven’t been asked before. When speaking about Do More than Give or my previous book with Heather McLeod Grant, Forces for Good, I’m often asked which is the most important practice to focus on if you’re not doing all of them. But which one is least common? I think we’re starting to see a shift on a many of these. Practice #1: Advocate for Change is an interesting theme, because so many foundation boards shy away from funding advocacy. In my view, this is mostly because there is simply too much confusion about what is legal versus what is not–I always tell boards and trustees that each of the nonprofits in my first book, Forces for Good, were able to do all the lobbying they needed and still fall well within the legal limits–to see a shift toward advocacy. But it seems today more donors are warming up to the new idea. Practice #2: Blend Profit With Purpose is where we address activities such as mission investing. But a very small percentage of foundations actually put into practice that approach, despite the excellent report on the subject by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisor: “Philanthropy’s Passing Gear.”

Watch for more Do More Than Give highlights during the month of April. You can also visit For more information on this book and other features, visit our Page to Practice library or follow us at Twitter and Facebook.

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