Productive Flourishing

Breaking Down Barriers of Philanthropy (Episode 230)

Episode Summary

Transformational Giving with Kris Putnam-Walkerly

Episode Notes

Today’s guest is Kris Putnam-Walkerly, author of Delusional Altruism: Why Philanthropists Fail to Achieve Change and What They Can Do to Transform Giving. She and Charlie talk about the barriers philanthropists face in making change happen, and Kris shares some of what she writes about in her book on ways to overcome them. Most importantly, they discuss whether the word philanthropy itself is one of these barriers for social funders and investors.

 

Key Takeaways:

[2:50] - Kris now works with philanthropists as an advisor and strategist, assessing impact and making changes based on what works and what doesn’t. Originally starting with a master’s in social work, her journey through different family foundations led her to this opportunity she has now.

[5:35] - Kris defines philanthropy as actively promoting human welfare, and generosity and caring for others. While giving money is a big part of philanthropy, the definition extends to giving of our full selves to help our neighbors, communities, and the greater good.

[8:20] - Charlie and Kris talk about whether the word philanthropy is culturally problematic. When considering the connotation of the words, phrases, or norms we perpetuate, we have to be conscious of racism or structural inequities, and implications they have for people’s lives today.

[12:15] - As people begin to think about themselves as philanthropists or funders, it’s important to put yourself in uncomfortable positions and make sure you aren’t shying away from the hard problems. Nonprofits can help with this, but funders need to challenge themselves as well.

[14:55] - Kris talks about overcoming the barrier of overwhelm, especially in an ever-changing world: 1. Start with the right questions (why and what), 2.an valuate where you’re at toda, 3. Figure out what focus items you need to work on to move you forward. 

[21:50] - Charlie and Kris talk about complexity capacity, and the barrier for philanthropists and funders taking on projects that will take an extended time to play out. They talk about putting reality into a relatable context, and also recognizing interim progress and engagement points along the way. 

[26:45] - Charlie shares his own experience fighting racial inequity and social justice on the board of SVP Portland. They looked at what was causing disparate outcomes in the community, and identified where they could make the biggest change. 

[32:19] - Once your plan is in action, you also have to intentionally check in to see what’s working and not working, and make changes as necessary. Disruption and volatility are the status quo.

[33:50] - It can be frustrating for the entrepreneurial sector who are used to identifying problems and solutions on their own and at a fast pace. It is important for the entrepreneurial spirit and the coalition mindset to come together to make change happen in the most effective ways. 

[38:45] - In her book, Kris writes about ways to increase your speed (especially on the coalition side), while also noting that you have to have all the pieces in place for effective processes before you can kick things off. You have to allow time for connectivity to be established, but move quickly enough that the interest and funding remains.

[40:15] - Charlie and Kris talk about what’s on the horizon for social investors and funders as we are moving toward a recovery period after this pandemic. In addition to looking ahead, organizations should also look back at the past year to identify things they would like to maintain going forward or changes they need to make to remain effective.

[44:45] - Kris’ invitation for listeners is to reflect on your strategy, and refresh your strategy based on your reflections over the past year and your team’s plans moving forward. This will give clarity and flexibility. 

Mentioned in This Episode:

Productive Flourishing

Start Finishing, by Charlie Gilkey

Delusional Altruism, by Kris Putnam-Walkerly

8 Things Every Philanthropist Can Do - Free Guide

Can’t Not Do, by Paul Shoemaker