Navigating Philanthropy: Let Data be Your Compass

Aristotle once said, “To give money away is an easy matter and in any man’s power. But to decide to whom to give it, and how much, and when, and for what purpose and how, is neither in every man’s power nor an easy matter.” This question has been posed since the dawn of time. Grant Philanthropic Advisors’ (GPA) approach to a philanthropic data analysis can make giving a little less daunting and more joyful.

Challenges Facing Philanthropists Today

When it comes to deciding where to direct your philanthropic giving, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all of the options available. Philanthropists have many reasons to seek data around their giving, whether it’s because they make gifts throughout the year to dozens of organizations with a variety of missions, or they say ‘yes’ to all organizations that ask. Philanthropic advisors often hear the following statements when it comes to seeking clarity on their philanthropic strategy.

“We say ‘yes’ to lots of organizations.”

“We give to dozens of organizations with different missions all over the country.”

“I make gifts throughout the year.”

“I am unclear on how all of these organizations tie to our mission and values.”

“There are lots of us in our family making decisions.”

“I am dealing with more than one vehicle.”

What is Data Analytics for Philanthropy?

Data analytics is the process of analyzing raw data into meaningful insights, that you can then use to guide decisions. When analyzing your philanthropic giving data, these insights might include:

  • Metrics such as changes to your giving over time; 
  • Percentage of giving by giving vehicle;
  • Allocation of giving by focus area and geographic location;
  • Donations by nonprofit category and the nonprofit’s operating budget size; and
  • Giving segmented by value(s).

A robust analysis of your previous giving data tells a story that words cannot.

When to Incorporate Data Analytics | Proactive Planning

Do you have a proactive strategy for your giving or do you take a more reactive approach? How do you tie your giving to your family’s values and legacy? Which of your values should you prioritize in making gifts, and how do you find the right balance in making final decisions? How do you consider geography in your philanthropic strategy? 

At GPA, clients benefit from a deep dive of their motivational values and establishing their family’s legacy as it relates to their philanthropic efforts. This approach and methodology is grounded in 21/64. Clarifying your top 3-5 motivational values eases the decision making process. Ultimately, measuring your philanthropic giving in the context of your motivational values illuminates the impact of your philanthropic intent. GPA clients’ strategic plans are grounded in understanding how their gift allocation flows according to their values; data analytics tells the story. 
After you’ve done the work of identifying your values; understanding how you want them to tie into your philanthropic strategy; and solidifying your focus areas for giving, then data analytics can help you make informed decisions.

How to Use Your Philanthropic Data Analysis

Accessing data analytics related to your giving history can help create the perfect starting place for guiding you through challenging decisions. Analyzing giving data can help you:

  • Inform strategic decisions and shifts in your giving approach.
  • Unite family members around values and philanthropic goals.
  • Hold yourself and others accountable for goals around your philanthropic impact.
  • Empower you to say “no” in order to better meet your philanthropic goals.
  • Celebrate your impact in the community and highlight your philanthropic “why” for future generations.

Incorporating data analysis around your philanthropic giving will enhance your social impact and help you navigate strategic philanthropic discussions with your family, advisors and colleagues. 

GPA’s Philanthropy Map

GPA offers a Philanthropy Map to help sustain a visual and dynamic image of a client’s philanthropic footprint and impact. The dynamic tool is updated regularly and offers philanthropists the ability to slice and dice their data in a variety of ways to understand patterns. To start your philanthropic data analytics journey, learn more about the Philanthropy Map and how to better use your giving data to create even more impact in the community.

Philanthropic Analysis | Getting Started

Savvy philanthropic strategies should include an analysis of previous giving to inform future planning. Start with the easy metrics you want to understand and capture; it will lead to an illumination of a larger picture of generosity. Philanthropic advisors facilitate a reflective discussion around giving patterns and behaviors that will guide future philanthropic engagement.

About Grant Philanthropic Advisors:
We’re an independent, Charleston-based firm helping clients to focus and maximize their philanthropy—in turn, strengthening the fabric of our communities. Founded in 2019, we help donors move from responsive patterns of giving by assisting clients to identify values and become more strategic in their philanthropy. Our goal is to help donors to become more effective as change-makers. Our team has a combined 100 years of experience working in the field of philanthropy.

We work with foundations (large and small staff teams), donor advised fund holders, multi generational families, individuals, philanthropy supporting organizations and corporations to design philanthropic strategies. We work with philanthropies that grant $1 million to $40 million annually. Our clients span the Southeast with a concentration in Charleston, Atlanta and Charlotte.