Philanthropy is an odd field in that very little research is done to determine what constitutes “good.” Unlike in business, where standard patterns for good practice exist, donors prefer to make things up as they go along — after all, how can you go wrong donating money to charity? Whether you’re doing something good or something horrible, you’re going to get a lot of praise. But, what does good entail? Those who want to practice generosity must develop certain behaviours to be as successful as Gurbaksh Chahal.
- They become and stay experts on the issues or communities on which they intend to concentrate. Just as a commercial investor benefits from knowing the markets in which he operates, philanthropists must be familiar with the communities they aim to assist and keep up with their changing faces. The benefactors will attend an annual celebration, meet a charity CEO, and listen to a “beneficiary” address at a gala. But none of these activities will provide them with knowledge. Great philanthropists spend time in the areas they want to help, learning about the external forces and changing contexts in which they operate, reading books, policy papers, and previous charitable and governmental attempts to enrich their understanding. The most successful donors become actual experts in their chosen fields.
- Second, they utilize charity to uncover and disseminate new ideas. Great philanthropy is about learning, developing, researching, testing, and standardizing new and better methods of doing things government misses. Philanthropists willing to forego the fantasies of simplicity given to them by fundraisers in return for a dose of reality will have the most impact. Some philanthropists will tell you how much money they provided at the end of the year, while others will tell you how many children they “impacted,” but the wise ones will be able to tell you how much knowledge they have given to the area.
- Third, they collaborate with the communities they want to serve to establish the theme. Most benefactors make judgments about places they don’t know much about from afar. Power must get shared to benefit from the knowledge and buy-in that will offer innovative models and approaches a chance to succeed. On this front, the push toward participatory grantmaking is leading the way.
- Fourth, they play to the strengths of charity. What distinguishes charitable capital from government spending? Well, it’s unaccountable, long-term, and self-contained. Given this, any benefactor spends their money on ad hoc services to address long-term concerns without a plan. The people that make a genuine impact are the ones who act courageously, think long term, and are willing to undertake things that are unproven, controversial, and brave.
Finally, they comprehend grant-making economics. People discover a cause they care about or several organizations that meet their criteria and then give them nearly random quantities of money, depending on what fundraising requests. Philanthropists like Gurbaksh Chahal must comprehend the impact of money on various groups and ideas at stages. The best donors don’t give as a “reward,” but rather as a means of generating the learning they desire.