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Why Wise Philanthropy

“It is hard to say ‘no’ graciously; it is even harder to say ‘yes’ wisely.”

Simply put, knowledge + judgment = wisdom. As our teaching and advising has flourished over the years, we are constantly reminded that good philanthropy is not a skill easily taught, nor an art form easily appreciated. Rather it is all about the judgment of the funder. Our firm is committed to help any and all funders learn how to make informed judgments leading to wiser philanthropy.

Both of us come from long involvement in philanthropy — going back to our family histories, and continuing throughout our professional careers. We are funders, educators of funders, writers about philanthropy, advisors of funders, trustees, have worked in the public benefit sector, and have professionally directed foundations. Yet we, like almost every one else in the field, never had any training in how to do it well. As our careers morphed into our philanthropy advisory practice, we realized that, while there may be many ways to give, many simply don’t do it well, wisely, or, sadly, ethically. Thus, with many years of experience in the field of philanthropy, we became committed to providing knowledge, by teaching and conducting seminars, courses, and workshops. and judgment, by advising a select group of philanthropy clients. The net worth of our clients ranges from relatively modest to vastly wealthy. Their commonality is their desire to give more wisely.

One of the most frequent things we hear from our clients and students is “this is harder than we thought it would be.” One might think that giving money away is a great pleasure and a source of great gratification; all too often it becomes a great challenge and source of angst. Whether making choices among worthy causes, deciding whether to spend down or plan for perpetuity, involving children and grandchildren, or responding to changing economic environments, the choices can become onerous or overwhelming. Our practice helps funders of all sorts align their culture and strategy, and make sure that this noble effort and extraordinary opportunity gives as much satisfaction as it accomplishes desired results.

Underlying our work is a belief that the public benefit sector manifests the very character of a society. How we choose to spend our disposable time and resources says a great deal about our values, and how these values get implemented in public policy says something profound about our vision of the world. Every philanthropic choice, therefore, no matter how large or small, reflects a choice. We hope that we can be helpful in helping our clients and students make wise choices, with the full appreciation and understanding of how their generosity can, does, and will make a difference.

Please let us know how we might help you, your family, or your foundation become wiser philanthropists.