philanthrocapitalists funding investment

I’m sure you’ve read about philanthrocapitalism. If you’re in the social sector and have not been keeping up with this relatively new term, you need to familiarize yourself with it. The lines that existed between the for-profit and non-profit sectors are blurring. Capitalists are increasingly seeking outcomes in philanthropy based on market-based solutions. This, in turn, is trickling down to institutional and general fund donors.

You probably know some of the big names in philanthrocapitalism, including Bill and Melinda Gates and Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg. These people, and others, are having an impact in global philanthropy, priorities and outcomes. Additionally, the advances in science, technology and globalization are all playing a part in philanthrocapitalism as more funders are demanding metrics for investment money.

If you run a small or medium sized nonprofit, you might not think you need to worry or think about philanthrocapitalism because you don’t have a billionaire or a large funder serving on your board.

That’s not the case.

More and more donors are tightening up who and what they are supporting. For example, on average Boomers are known to support to up to six organizations. However, every subsequent generation gives to fewer organizations. They might have just two or three charities that they financially support. And, with the proliferation of social media and the way we absorb the news and information, everyone from the top to your $5 donor is expecting to see results in ways that were not present 10 years ago.

How can you compete and dominate your industry so you can get more funding? What is the mindset you need to have? Here are some thoughts to help you become better positioned with today’s donors:

1. Change Your Attitude: Everything begins and ends with how you think of yourself and your organization. If you think your nonprofit is small and you have a small vision for it, it will be small. It may even be insignificant. However, if you think BIG, you’ll do a lot more than you would have ever thought possible.

It doesn’t matter if you never grow to scale and remain a local nonprofit. Perhaps thinking big for you means being “the best” at offering the services you offer in your community. Maybe it means coming up with solutions no one has ever thought about previously. Whatever thinking BIG means to you, it all begins with your attitude. Stay positive and firm in a compelling vision for the future.

2. Get Comfortable with Risk: In order to come up with new solutions to old problems, it means you inherently have to take risk. When you come up with a new program or initiative, there is risk. Donors, and that includes the smallest donors as well, want to see measurable results and impact. They want to know that your nonprofit is moving the needle forward.

Foundations and corporate sponsors are reviewing their guidelines and tightening up whom they support. The funding is going to those organizations that can innovate and support the programs they are doing with measurable results. Being timid or afraid to take a chance in this environment will actually cost you money.

3. Understand Your Metrics: It’s no longer acceptable to simply tell the story. The story, while important, is part of a larger narrative. That means you have to demonstrate that you are achieving what you say you’re doing with numbers. Numbers are cut and dry. You’re either serving 6,346 people a year, for example, or you’re not.

The executives and fundraisers who are getting more of the money are those who understand and demand the concrete metrics from their program team. The time has passed when a good mission and story were enough to get someone to support it. You now need to prove you’re doing what you say you’re doing.

4. Foster Creativity and Innovation: You want to foster an environment of creativity and innovation. You want to have your team think out of the box, or even re-invent the box. The same hackneyed approach to things is not going to win the day. This is not going to happen in a global environment where now an innovator in another country sees the same problem and is thinking of a scalable solution, probably with the use of technology and strategic partnerships.

To make you have a team that is always challenging itself to think creatively, make certain you have diversity. People who come from varying backgrounds and think differently than you do is important. They will help you see something in a new way.

5. Never Be Satisfied: Entrepreneurs and visionaries are never satisfied. They are not content with the world as it is. It can always be better. We can always do more. To be a visionary leader within a leading organization, you can never accept that things are and will always be what they are – there’s nothing that can be done. If that’s you’re approach to things, you might as well quit and look for another line of work.

Never being satisfied is a motivator. It propels people and organizations forward. Demanding more should always be baked into the DNA of your organization’s culture.


Wayne is the author of “Not Your Father’s Charity: How to DOMINATE YOUR Fundraising to Create YOUR Success” (Free Digital Download)

© 2016 Wayne Elsey and Not Your Father’s Charity. All Rights Reserved.