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Giving strategically with thought, purpose and impact doesn’t just happen. It takes time, consideration and research. 

The Equity Trustees Giving Consultancy guides and supports philanthropists to define their values and aspirations for giving. This collaborative approach to developing the strategy also enhances a family’s ability to know themselves before they decide where they would like to give.;

The Giving Consultancy process, delivered by your Relationship Manager covers:;

  • Vision for the change you wish to create.
  • Family values and how they apply to charitable organisation selection.
  • Mission statement for how you wish to achieve your vision.
  • Giving risk tolerance to evaluate the risk appetite you have to achieve the change.
  • Succession plan to see your giving continue into the future.

Understanding a family’s concept of ‘effective giving’ is an important discussion during the Giving Consultancy process. The family’s definition of effective giving will influence how, where and to who they give. Over time, these giving behaviours will change as families become more comfortable and informed.

Let’s talk about risk 

The conversation about risk takes place as a part of defining ‘effective giving’. Understanding a family’s giving risk appetite means a greater understanding of potential options and a greater chance to achieve an impact.

There are a number of ways philanthropists can support the for-purpose sector.

You can support organisations within an existing system or look to change or create a new system for organisations to operate within. Each option has varying levels of risk; the important thing is to know where you are on the spectrum of giving ‘risk’ – are you comfortable directing your giving to newer ventures, untested projects, approaches; or organisations; to established organisations and programs; or somewhere in between?

Understanding what level of risk a family is willing to take and clearly setting giving objectives means that philanthropists are offering their donation with eyes wide open. No other grant-making group has this same freedom to choose their risk appetite, which is why philanthropy is often referred to as ‘society’s risk capital.’

Conversely, government funding is often risk averse. It allocates taxpayer funds, which has inherent obligations and accountability. Government is more likely to fund charities after a program has already succeeded.

Corporate funders also have different accountabilities. Their giving often reflects their employee or shareholder preferences, which can mean their risk appetite is low. 

Only philanthropic funders have the freedom to experiment with solutions and flexibly build new systems that solve problems.

What is systems change?

The concept of ‘systems thinking’ originated in 1956 in the hallways of Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management (MIT Sloan). Systems thinking is an approach to analysis that focuses on how the different parts of a system interrelate and understanding how things influence each other.

In philanthropy, ‘systems change’ thinking is starting to evolve as many grant-makers are seeking to understand the complexity of different systems and look holistically at shifting the multiple conditions that hold problems in place. So rather than sustaining existing systems, they look to transform them into something new.

At its core, systems change involves tackling the root causes of a social problem by changing policies, power dynamics, the flow of money, talent, and other resources – and sometimes even transforming customs and mind-sets.

It is a complex and long-term approach and requires more resources than a single grant-maker has.

Is it possible for philanthropists at the start of their giving journey to adopt systems change thinking? It is but to do so we need to look at:

1. Consider your chosen cause area and dig deeper into the root cause of the situation, looking beyond the symptoms of a social issue.

2. Examine the critical players in the system who are creating positive change – listen and consult – then invest in those players.

3. Partner and collaborate with other grant-makers who are also invested in systems change.

4. Support organisations on a multi-year and untied flexible basis, allowing organisations you trust to invest in new approaches and emergent work.

The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI) is supported by Equity Trustees and is undertaking ground-breaking research around systems change in philanthropy.
If you are interested in finding out more about the Giving Consultancy or systems change grant-making, speak with your Relationship Manager.