Taking the lead instead of taking a facilitating role

When we founded Effective Giving in the spring of 2016, we adopted an initial strategy of focussing on what Robert and I would be going to “do”. Gathering and sharing knowledge, establishing educational programmes, etc.

Image credit: Sidney Harris

Image credit: Sidney Harris

However, one of Effective Giving’s core values is that we recognise that we don’t know all the answers. To keep learning, we need to be open and alert to new insights and knowledge. Luckily, this value encouraged us to draft a number of ‘theories of change’ together with a large number of experienced people. Especially Robert spent a lot of time making Skype calls with professionals from all over the world, and of course documented everything very neatly.

These sessions led to a large amount of adjustments. We were still in a mode in which Effective Giving played the leading role in the picture we were foreseeing. It were sessions with a number of brave philanthropists who made us adjust our course – people like Frank van Beuningen from PYMWYMIC made us come to realize that Effective Giving could add a lot more value as a community of philanthropists and foundations instead of operating more like a ‘philanthropic advisory’.

Of course starting a ‘community’ sounds vague. One way in which we tried to operate as a community is illustrated by the way we set up the Mini Masters programme. Instead of polishing a perfect program, we hosted a trial run with a group of 15 brave pioneers. After every session we collected feedback and adjusted the content of the next session(s). In this way, these pioneers helped us shape the content of the programme tailored to their views and needs.