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February 08, 2007


Maggie F. Keenan, Ed.D.

As someone who has been in the field of strategic philanthropy for over a decade, I am delighted to read your post. You are dead on what strategic philanthropy is and, foundations have been using this model for quite sometime. Companies in the past 6 years or so, are just coming around to fully practicing this model. As we all know, charity is a uni-lateral exchange of a gift. It's about simply writing a check or donating goods because its a good thing to do. Philanthropy on the other hand,is an organized approach to giving with a set of principles and methods to ensure that giving is effective and sustainable -- in it for the long haul and to create social change. It has to be strategic for it to work.

Strategic philanthropy does have a competitive edge to it, but should not be what it is about for corporations. I say if corporations want a marketing program that includes it's giving -- have a cause related marketing program (CRM). CRM is about giving through the promotion/sale of a product or service. It has a shelf life - and works so as long as the product sells. It's not a charitable deduction for corporations - rather a marketing expense. This model is all about promotion with a spin. I am not a proponent of CRM. If they want a marketing program with a spin, hire a marketing strategist. If they want a strategic philanthropy program that creates social change and makes an impact, hire a philanthropy strategist.

Lastly, strategic philanthropy can be measured. In loose terms we say they have 'made a difference'. In concrete, measureable terms, we say they have made an 'impact'. (impact evaluation).


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