Convince Your Board to Pursue Greater Impact - Exponent Philanthropy
A post to Exponent Philanthropy's blog

Convince Your Board to Pursue Greater Impact

If we’re not actively pursuing real impact with everything we’ve got, we’re simply processing paper and redistributing assets. Why settle for that when we can see and participate in real change?

—Emily Hull-Parsons, The William McCaskey Chapman & Adaline Dinsmore Chapman Foundation

I bet you’re convinced that your foundation can accomplish more with its giving, or you probably wouldn’t be reading this post. I also bet that at least one key individual at your foundation is not convinced.

So how do you shift doubters to the camp of “we can accomplish more with our giving”?

Start here—with these general principles about change:

  • People typically do not change until the “pain” of the status quo is unbearable. It is not uncommon for foundations to resist change until they’ve given away hundreds of thousands or more yet can’t identify the difference they made.
  • You cannot force someone to change, but it is possible to lead someone to change. To the one being encouraged to change, the experience will feel less like a prosecution.
  • You can lead without holding a leadership position. Consider the 8-year-old who persistently pleads with her father to acknowledge the dangers of smoking, ultimately convincing him to quit. There is influence at all levels.
  • Change takes time, and requires patience and perseverance. Change is hard for everyone, and shifting behaviors among those in your foundation is not likely to occur after one conversation. Rather, prepare for a slow, thoughtful, iterative process over many meetings and conversations.
  • People are more open to change if someone takes the time to understand and address their concerns. Openly listen rather than make assumptions and seek to relate rather than condemn. Humility is critical.

Then download one or more of our eight discussion guides designed to help you facilitate discussions among your board members or local community of grantmakers with one purpose in mind: to explore and strengthen a commitment to impact with your giving.

Senior Program Manager Sara Beggs currently focuses her time and energy on an effort to equip Exponent Philanthropy members with the information and inspiration to achieve greater impact over time. Her greatest philanthropic joy is participation in Blooming Kids for Kindness, a group of ten families that encourage their children to care about their communities and recognize that each can make a difference through local and international volunteer and fundraising activities. 


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