Give, Monitor, Evaluate

By Ian Prior
U.S. Trust

Traditional philanthropy — sending a check every year, perhaps to the same charitable organization, with little or no further engagement — benefits millions of lives. But now, some wealthy donors are becoming more involved. They’re more selective about where and how they give, and are keeping a sharper eye on how their gifts affect people’s lives. Welcome to high impact philanthropy.

To be clear, focused giving is not new. “Throughout the history of philanthropy in America, donors have focused on specific issues and sought to create the greatest impact possible,” says Claire Costello, national philanthropic practice executive at U.S. Trust. “Yet over the last decade or so, we’ve seen a greater emphasis on measuring the impact of a gift, together with an increase in the kind of tools — technological and otherwise — that donors can use to measure that impact.”

Indeed, more than half of the respondents in the 2014 U.S. Trust® Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy say they “monitor or evaluate” the impact of their giving. They might do this by volunteering at nonprofit organizations they donate to, or by researching the organizations online, where information is readily available. (See “How Donors Monitor Their Charitable Giving,” below.)

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