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Rethinking Fundraising for Today’s ‘New Philanthropy’

After ten years doing anything, one is bound to come away changed

April 14, 2011
After ten years doing anything, one is bound to come away changed. Time allows for one to gather a decade of experience, fine-tune strategies, champion successful processes and learn from shortcomings. This year both NetHope and the Global Philanthropy Forum (GPF) Conference celebrate their tenth anniversary, stronger yet not too far from their founding ideals.
The conference intends to ask the same questions it has for the past ten years—what are the fundamentals of philanthropy?, which approaches work?, what roles play into financing the public good?—but in the context of today’s ‘new philanthropy.’ According to their site, GPF defines ‘new philanthropy’ as the new force for change lead by ‘new philanthropists’ like Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett, John and Tasha Morgridge, Jeff Skoll and Pierre and Pam Omidyar. These leaders are “infusing philanthropy with the same creative and experimental zest they brought to private enterprise.”
With business-minded individuals leading this new approach to philanthropy, it only makes sense for the non-profit world to rethink fundraising.  Strategist Jason Saul believes that the market is the perfect place for non-profits to advance their social agendas, and makes the case in his new book The End of Fundraising. The title may be misleading; he says himself, “(this) book does not advocate an end to fundraising so much as a renaissance.”
Traditional fundraising pushes programs, whereas ‘new philanthropy’ puts outcomes as the ‘selling points,’ Saul says. Outcomes are the changes that arise from social work, taking form as awareness, improved reputation, increased investment or even changed public policies. Non-profits will receive the most support by sharing those outcomes to companies, foundations and individuals that have an economic interest in seeing those results.
We may see this year’s GFP attendees questioning if non-profits’ previously successful strategies will hold up in this ultra-competitive, market-driven fundraising environment; NetHope’s networked giving model should pass the test.
NetHope represents 32 of the world’s leading international non-governmental organizations and facilitates collaboration, connection and innovation between them to deliver Information and Communication Technology (ICT) solutions to the developing world. Member NGOs reap the benefits of sharing collective expertise, strategies and resources, and, as a result, better serve their beneficiaries. This is an instant return on investment for donors, because the same dollar they would give to one NGO now is shared among many NGOs; a bigger positive impact for the same dollar invested.
Saul notes that non-profits need to have a ‘new playbook’—with public-private partnerships, new technologies, new incentives and current-edge theories—if they want to win the competition for philanthropic investment.
NetHope has always seen the value in public-private partnership (PPP). In fact, NetHope was founded by a Cisco fellow! Last year, NetHope partnered with USAID to create the Global Broadband and Innovations (GBI) Alliance. This relationship allows for NetHope programs in connectivity, mobile and innovation for development to accelerate because GBI shares NetHope’s desire for outcomes in the developing world.
What’s the takeaway? Non-profits no longer exist outside the market. A NGO unable to identify valuable outcomes to the right donors will be crowded out by other NGOs that share their impressive outcomes with the right people. If a humanitarian organization struggles to point out substantial outcomes, then maybe strategies should be revised to make a bigger splash—edited to include the collaboration and public-private partnerships found in NetHope.
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