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International adoptions have dropped 60% since 2004. UN policies, government regulations and high costs are to blame. Millions of orphans suffer through life without a healthy family context. All these facts that Both Ends Burning, STUCK, and now Foster Friess are sharing are true. But you won't find my name on the STUCK petition at change.org or my footprints in DC during the May 17 "step forward for orphans march." I've learned too much to believe international adoption is the solution for a world full of orphans.
Do you still enjoy your giving? In a world of professional philanthropy conferences, philanthropy journals and "giving gone wrong" headlines, giving can become one more skill to master or task to manage. My daily research into the performance and impact of grantees has the real potential to strip away the joy of generosity. It can become all head and no heart. Site visits can feel like audits. Grant impact reports can relieve the worry of wasting gifts rather than excite you about the difference the gift has made.
To be honest, you may wonder if it really matters.
Are foundations making good grants? I see positive trends to applaud and emulate in the latest Money for Good II study that surveyed foundation giving decisions. If you want to find out how many hours of research foundations are doing before issuing grants and how much their findings affect new gifts, check out my recent post about Positive Trends in Foundation Grant-making at the Council on Foundations RE:Philanthropy blog.
What if your donation to fight human trafficking paid the salary of a human trafficker? What if your donation to support widowed law enforcement families went to a felon’s bank account? What if your child sponsorship monthly donation and letters never helped the girl in the picture? What if you gave money to loan to a struggling entrepreneur in Africa that was actually embezzled by loan officers? In the last year, I have seen each one of these nightmares come true. It could have been avoided. Read how in my latest Alliance magazine article Giving poorly can be worse than not giving at all.
Do you want to know if you are supporting effective and efficient nonprofit organizations? You can. That is what the Intelligent Philanthropy web platform is designed to do. I've stopped blogging for the past 4 months to launch it as soon as we could.
I have been working on this project for almost 2 years with my coworkers at Excellence In Giving. We have evaluated all other online resources for making smart giving decisions and decided that our platform would outperform all of them.
How do you identify a community's most outstanding needs? How do you know what can effectively address those needs? How can you best leverage your charitable giving to support effective solutions? These questions are profoundly difficult to answer... but we think we can. And we do it all the time.
Excellence in Giving, LLC has developed a community assessment process that begins with a client's topic of interest and ends with strategic giving recommendations. The process is captured in the following graphic:
Many lessons have been learned from international disaster response and recovery efforts over the past 50 years. Excellence in Giving hopes to make giving recommendations with those lessons in mind. What are some of those lessons? Here is a short list: