Last week DSC hosted one of the many free Insight Talks we offer to people in the third sector looking to gain more valuable knowledge. In our most recent talk, we delved into the world of philanthropic advisory: what it means to be a philanthropic advisor, the impact and challenges associated with the role and most importantly, the part it plays in our ever-changing sector.
For this talk, we were delighted to welcome Dr. Beth Breeze OBE and Emma Beeston, co-authors of Advising Philanthropists: Principles and Practice, to discuss the topic in depth and take any questions from our attendees. We were also happy to be joined by the Chair of the Charity Commission, Orlando Fraser. After a stirring speech from Orlando, endorsing philanthropic advisory, Beth and Emma began to discuss the ideas present in their book.
This included some of the misunderstandings of the role philanthropic advisors play. Often advisors have a large breadth of responsibilities, having to understand what motivates giving, as well as having the analytical and people skills to identify the best choices for donors. The talk helped to demystify the processes around philanthropy advisory, demonstrating the steps of clarifying motivations, narrowing the focus of donors, designing and then implementing a strategic plan for giving, all the while helping to educate donors.
These responsibilities are regularly overlooked or underestimated but this talk helped to shed light on the value that philanthropy advisors have in the ecosystem. Overall, there are many pervasive misconceptions about this line of work as it is still an emerging role. However, the authors also pointed out that this is exciting; as philanthropic advisors take more of a step into the limelight, more opportunity for positive change is made possible. With the increasing challenges the sector is facing, improving philanthropic structure is key to overcoming obstacles, and the part that philanthropic advisors play in that improvement is integral.
Following on from the presentation, we began our questions and answers session with our attendees. This part of the talk is always a fascinating one, with fundraisers and people from across the sector getting engaged and coming up with some great questions for our speakers. During this session we had a variety of questions on participatory grant-making, best practices for fundraisers wanting to approach philanthropic advisors, as well as a discussion on the benefits and drawbacks of unrestricted giving for donors. Finally, a question was asked about data linking philanthropy advisors leading to increased giving. The answer to this question is that there is some correlation between the two, but the authors warned against confusing this for cause and effect. Ultimately, there is still much more research to be done in this field, but this insight talk from DSC was great for engaging more people in the topic and improving understanding.
If you are interested in the concepts of philanthropic advising then be sure to buy your copy of Advising Philanthropists: Principles and Practice. Equally, if you work in the sector and would like to learn more about a wide range of topics, do keep an eye out for our upcoming free Insight Talks.