The Multiplier Effect – Leveraging Your Time, Talent, Treasures and Ties

Some of the most rewarding projects I get to work on, are the ones where donors want to bring in other players beyond the initial fundee.  There are different ways in which philanthropists can engage the broader community (either close ties, or ones that are several degrees removed):

  1. Challenge Grants
  2. Connecting Organizations
  3. Opening Doors
  4. Advocating on Issues

This summer, I have been part of a number of donor-driven initiatives that covered off one, if not more than one, of these four engagement strategies.  You can see some of these projects on myPlace2Give.

Challenge Grants: Probably the most common type of engagement; when a donor makes a pledge to a charity up to a certain amount provided that organization can find matching funds.  Government funders are the largest type of challenge grant funders in that several of their grants require a match from a private or corporate donor.  In this case it is usually up to the charity to find the matching dollars, but as an engaged donor, you likely will also be opening doors to your network to advance the challenge grant.

Connecting Organizations: This is one of the hardest and most time-intensive engagements… and the most rewarding.  This type of engagement strategy is when a donor looks at her giving portfolio and sees how two or more agencies can work together to address the critical social issue that she is looking to support, makes the connection and works with the operational and programming staff to facilitating links that either:

  • Reduce costs
  • Increase revenue
  • Reach mandated outcomes sooner
  • Improve community outreach and engagement

Opening Doors: Your network, next to your time, is probably one of our most valuable assets.  It is the one thing that ensures your resiliency in a time of crisis and is the one thing that can be grown without too much outlay of resources.  It is also the intangible asset that you likely hold most dear; and because you hold it to your heart, why wouldn’t someone else want access to it?  As a major donor, one of the greatest gifts you can give an organization you believe in, is access to your network, either for volunteering, for funding, or for Pro-Bono work.  But it is a two-way street and if you are opening doors then you should see a return on your investment in that agency either by way of successful implementation of the project/service, improved sustainability of the overall operations or increased awareness around the issue that you are addressing.  If the charity doesn’t successfully engage you and your network then it is up to you to revisit the parameters of the relationship.

Advocating Issues: Charities are in a unique position where they see and experience the issues on the front-line, first hand.  Yet, Canadian organizations (unlike their American counter-parts) have strict limitations on how resources can be allocated to advocate and lobby government on those very issues.  As donors you don’t have these limitations and your voice is a powerful one when it comes to raising political awareness on one of the issues you are passionate about.  Coordinating messaging with the charity you support is a critical component to effective advocacy from the donor, but it is generally recognized that you are speaking as an independent citizen and championing and issue that is important to you.

These four engagement strategies, either done independently or in combination with each other have positive multiplier effects on your donations.