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4619 N. Ravenswood Ave., Ste 305
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We are a multidisciplinary innovation studio working with diverse partners to understand sustainability challenges and identify holistic, resilient solutions, and we are committed to training the next generation of leaders.


Insights, inspiration and opportunities to create a more vibrant and resilient future.

The Best Giving Strategy?

Peter Nicholson

Your Philanthropy: Part II
Giving often comes from the heart. There’s nothing wrong with that. Building on last week’s post, however, here are some additional suggestions for interjecting some intellect into the act. I’ve found that by balancing heart and head, I’m more likely to maximize the impact of the dollars I contribute.

1. LEADERSHIP: It’s easy to forget that organizations aren’t their mission and activities, but rather their people. Consider investing in talented leaders, particularly younger and emerging ones who are striving and learning, and trying to be smart about what they’re doing, but may not yet have large networks of supporters or fundraising capacity.

2. EXPERIENCE: Try to experience whatever the organization does for yourself. Attend their events, volunteer, go to a performance, read their materials, see how the entity’s stakeholders are experiencing the group.

3. INVOLVEMENT: In addition to giving cash, consider getting further involved with an organization in whose mission you believe. Volunteer, join the junior committee, get to know the staff, see if your time, connections and contributions would make you a desirable asset in some way.

4. DIVERSITY: A community is rich because of the diversity of services and opportunities it offers. While you may be passionate about literacy, don’t forget about the arts organization providing engaging after school programs, or the important work of your faith community, or that city-wide entity advocating for better transportation options. While it is easy to get overwhelmed by the need and opportunities, consider diversifying your contributions to some extent.

5. PERFECTION: Don’t let strategizing about your giving get in the way of doing it. Start anywhere and refine your approach over time, whether your budget is $100 or $10,000. The one caveat: do insure that the entity to which you’re giving, or their fiscal agent, has their IRS 501(c)3 status, if you wish to receive a tax benefit. You can do a quick check here: (as well as get a copy of their most recent 990).