Six basics of wise giving:
4. Get the right mix of skills
The bigger your investment commitment, the more skill you will want to apply to decisions about how to invest it. The processes of identifying goals, knowing community needs, applying investments and evaluating whether investments are working – all require certain skills.
One key skill is communication – how to impart your vision while managing expectations about your funding.
If you are working to identify community needs:
- Do you need to identify stakeholders and map their needs and knowledge? Find out who are the leaders of organisations that may be key to your goal and talk to them. They may have knowledge of current outcomes for local children, what the local needs are, existing funding opportunities or gaps, and people who are achieving success at the ‘coal face’.
- Do you have the research capability to analyse the priorities for your area of investment?
- Do you have the facilitation skills to run community meetings to garner local knowledge?
- Do you have the cultural competency to understand the world views and ways of working among your intended beneficiaries?
If you are leading the activities, ask yourself whether you have:
- the expertise to develop strategies and operationalise them to achieve your stated goal?
- networks to the beneficiaries of the activities?
- a structure to ensure financial accountability, and accountability for achieving outputs?
- an evaluation capability, or can you fund an independent evaluation of the activities? and
- an understanding of others who are active in this space – can you develop partnerships or agree service boundaries?
If investing in other organisations, do you have:
- the ability to recognise the quality of their governance, and their track record for good management and financial accountability? and
- the ability to monitor and review (or ‘evaluate’) the outcomes of the funding?
If making grants, do you have:
- the finance skills to develop a giving strategy that will achieve your goal?
- the communications skills to raise awareness of the grants and your intended outcomes?
- a robust assessment process to compare applications for grants?
- contract management expertise for allocating funding?
- a robust financial management system to manage fund commitments? This may include portfolio management.
If making partnership investments, be sure you have:
- relationship management skills to ensure clarity of communication between you and potential partners – to identify agreed goals, priorities and investment processes; and
- legal, financial and administrative support to reduce the risk of complications arising from shared investments.