Protecting Philanthropy - Part 1

09 October 2017

Giving is human; our reasons for partaking in philanthropy range from the purely altruistic to the less selfless, but no less valid.

Charitable giving can also be an important PR device. In the US it’s deeply embedded in social norms and values; especially when it comes to prominent  individuals. For example, in 2010, 40 of the US’ wealthiest individuals established The Giving Pledge, aimed at encouraging billionaires worldwide to pledge at least half of their wealth to philanthropic endeavours. Today, The Giving Pledge comprises a network of 170 of the world’s wealthiest individuals, united in the public eye by their commitment to philanthropy.

But despite the obvious benefits of philanthropy, from a reputational perspective it’s prudent to keep certain concerns in mind whenever you consider making a significant charitable donation.  The charities with which you align yourself can be hugely revealing about you and your values, and it’s important to consider this in line with public perception.  We’ve witnessed a number of charity-related scandals in the media in recent years, and a similar reputational shadow could easily be cast on you if your chosen organisation becomes the focus of public scrutiny.  

So, what to do? Start by following these three basic steps when considering donating to a charitable cause: 

Your personal privacy perspective

Do you want to promote your philanthropy, or would you prefer to invest or partake anonymously?  In the US, federal law requires that large donations in some instances be a matter of public record, although in some instances there are ways to address this.  Although anonymous investing is common, to mitigate the risk you should remain mindful of the causes you donate to, and ensure that they correlate with your personal brand.    

Be informed

Educate yourself thoroughly on the charity’s aims and objectives and conduct some due diligence.  Alternatively, get a financial or legal advisor to look into this for you, before making a substantial contribution or, if you want to make a more commercial philanthropic contribution, consider looking into firms which offer impact investing services  as they will perform their own stringent diligence on the companies with which they are affiliated.  Ensure you keep tabs on the charity and your investment to make sure it is meeting your own personal objectives, while continuing to adhere to your own personal values. 

Your Scope of involvement

Consider how involved you will want to be with the charity post-donation  As outlined above, philanthropy can be an important PR device, but it’s important to balance this against your own personal privacy strategy and stay aware that continued involvement could expose you to greater scrutiny in the event that the charity’s endeavours are later questioned.

Ultimately, giving is good, and none of the concerns raised above should put you off your philanthropic pursuits. But by considering these basic steps in the early stages of your philanthropy strategy, you will be better placed and protected from any associated reputational risk later on.

This article was first published on Citywealth,  4th October 2017. Click here to read the original article.

To read part two of this Protecting Philanthropy series, click here.

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