This month’s philanthropy blog comes from Lauren Gross, Managing Director of The Mesa, a social good technology incubated out of the global strategy consultancy I.G. Advisors.
The Mesa aims to drive change by providing innovative solutions for collaboration and community – Lauren shares more here about the power of community in transformational giving.
The Case for Community
As philanthropic advisors, my team is often asked what the broken links are when it comes to encouraging more charitable giving. There is a common list of reasons including lack of actual impact, donor dollars being used ineffectively, and sentiment that wealthy people control the narrative, amongst others.
However, one of the biggest and often overlooked reasons why donors do not give more is that they feel disempowered – specifically they are isolated, overwhelmed, and uninformed – when it comes to donating money. I think of this situation like I consider my wine order at a restaurant (take from that what you may…). I am looking at a menu to select a wine for the table. I never really understand the different kinds of wine or terminology like notes, flavour profile, or body. Then, I am asked to sip the wine in front of the other people in my group and announce on behalf of the table whether it works. Personally, I find this whole process very intimidating, and often I’ll go for a cocktail to avoid the whole situation.
Not dissimilarly when it comes to philanthropic giving, donors often do not have the tools, resources, and guidance to feel confident stepping outside their comfort zones and making decisions around their giving. Because of this, they disengage before they ever really understand all the amazing benefits it offers to them, their community, and society as a whole. They go for the cocktail.
But how do donors become more empowered to give in an informed, responsible and impactful way?
A key part of doing so is by finding better ways to build trust. Trust enables a donor to take bigger leaps, engage with others in meaningful ways, and challenge their preconceived notions. But, in order to build trust, belonging and connection need to be fostered.
One way to do this is through peer-to-peer giving, since donors may have already built trusted relationships with the person who is asking them to give. However, I’d say that is just the tip of the iceberg because it likely means that a donor specifically gives to a cause that a friend or family member recommends. If a donor wants to take it one step further, when it comes to strategic giving, we believe finding ways to build community alongside other donors is one of the most important and powerful ways to be encouraged and encourage others to give more – whether that is £10 or £1M. With community, donors come together to develop deep relationships, become informed and evolve, which in turn enables them to donate in better and smarter ways.
The good news is that giving in or alongside a community is only growing in popularity. Giving Circles (groups of donors who come together to collectively donate) are popping up in dining room tables, corporations, and online. Charities are forming new programming to bring their donors together around their causes. And new and existing philanthropic networks are focusing on bringing their members together to connect and collaborate online and offline.
Just like understanding the world of wine, giving can be accessible, democratised, and empowering, when surrounded by a supportive community. If you’re interested in becoming a more strategic, informed giver, look to other donors within the Habitat for Humanity GB community to learn why and how they give, or reach out to Jemma Chambers to see how you can engage with the wider Habitat community.
You can connect with Lauren on LinkedIn where you can also find The Mesa and I.G. Advisors