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Moving from Cause Giving to Models

“People will actually invest in [the program] even if they don’t care about [the cause], because they care about the model,” says Jim Fruchterman.

Fruchterman’s quote comes in the June 2015 Chronicle of Philanthropy.  There, the article notes in particular about how Silicon Valley is changing the face of philanthropy.  Silicon Valley funding looks for faster, more efficient ways that change can occur through philanthropy.

Stated differently, if a model program can provide quicker, more efficient change, then a donor may choose to give to that model even if they don’t care about the underlying cause.  Why?

Models can be replicated.  They can be used in other charities.

Let me use an example.  Assume my real passion is for youth ministry—engaging young people in mentoring programs.  But let’s assume that a rescue mission comes up with an entrepreneurial program that allows their homeless men build and sell product online.  I might choose to give to the rescue mission as a model program to see if it works.  And perhaps, that model might be applied to the youth ministry.

As a point of application, I have many non-profits approach me asking for a grant.  Those non-profits all have a passion for their cause.  But the problem is that there are so many organizations doing the same thing.  Let’s be real:  if you’ve seen one rescue mission, you’ve seen them all. (I’m stretching the point to make the point.)

But if a non-profit shows up with a new and different model for doing what they do, well, now that’s a different story.  That’s a big lesson for the non-profit world in the coming years.  But it’s also a big lesson that many donors are learning even now—looking for models of change.

About Bill High

Bill is CEO of the Signatry: A Global Christian Foundation. He works with families, individual givers, and financial advisers to share the foundation’s message regarding biblical generosity and charitable giving. » Learn More. He is the co-author with David Green of Giving It All Away and Getting It All Back Again: The Way of Living Generously.

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