Assets Philanthropy: how to make an impact

Do you want to put your money towards a good cause? This is how you can make an impact with your philanthropic commitment.

17 Nov 2020

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to be philanthropic. On the contrary. The important thing is to address the issues that are close to your heart. And then decide on the best way to achieve your philanthropic goals and make an impact with your commitment.

What would you change in the world?

Before starting any philanthropic activity, the main question to answer is what you want to change. To obtain greater clarity about where and how you can make a meaningful contribution, it is helpful to answer these questions:

  • What’s important to me?
  • What’s my passion?
  • Which of the world’s problems do I want to tackle?

The answers to these questions will bring you a little closer to discovering what sort of project might be particularly appropriate for you. Because philanthropy is like almost everything else in life: your own gut instinct plays a key role. But as is so often the case, you shouldn’t rely solely on gut instinct. A philanthropic commitment requires a clear vision and a good plan. You are more likely to find the necessary staying power if you can stand behind the cause and have a long-term vision for the philanthropic project.

Define your philanthropic vision

Once you know what is close to your heart, it helps to define a kind of vision, and even put it in writing, so that you can substantiate your wishes and goals. It is both idealistic and long term, and serves as inspiration and motivation that will drive forward your philanthropic endeavors. Again, certain questions can help to define your vision:

  • Who do I want to help? (age group, gender, population groups or communities)
  • Which problem do I want to focus on? (education, health, culture, equal opportunities, ecology or environment)
  • Where do I want to make a difference? (global vs. regional, abroad vs. in Switzerland)

Consider the initial draft of your vision as a working document. After all, a pointed, inspiring vision can’t be formulated overnight. So don’t rush into anything and remember that a vision is never fundamentally right or wrong – because it represents your own philanthropic ideas and aspirations.

Find a suitable approach and the right strategy for your vision

As in other areas of life, a vision needs a strategy to be implemented effectively. There are basically three different approaches available to you:

  1. You can get involved by helping out with resources. This usually means donating money, although other resources such as material and know-how for charitable purposes are also possible.
  2. You can build capacity, for example by promoting cooperation between existing organizations and by encouraging more people to work towards the goal you have defined.
  3. You can try and bring about change. This means doing everything you can to draw attention to the problem in question. You can involve the media, opinion leaders and other institutions to raise awareness of the issue through public campaigns and advocacy work.

Set clear goals for your philanthropic work based on the chosen approach. Keep the same question at the heart of everything you do: what do I want to achieve as a result of my commitment? With this goal in mind, you can then define appropriate activities. Use sources of information such as associations (e.g. SwissFoundations), discussions with those affected or existing organizations, initiatives in your area of interest or with other philanthropists. And you can also draw on the knowledge of philanthropy experts, e.g. those at UBS

Keep a constant eye on the impact of your commitment

Once you have adopted a vision, chosen an approach and defined a strategy, you can embark on your philanthropic journey. The following tips will help you to achieve the desired effect: 

  • Evaluate and re-evaluate the objectives of your philanthropy on a regular basis and make the necessary adjustments. A continuous experience and learning curve is essential. Ask yourself questions like: how can I help the project to progress even more efficiently? Who can I obtain help and advice from, and who could I enter into a partnership with?
  • Plan the evaluation: Set a timetable for evaluating your commitment, such as twice or even four times a year. Remember, you don’t have to do everything yourself. You can access data from third parties or obtain support from experts, for example. 
  • Look beyond the edge of your plate: Also think beyond philanthropy. There are many ways to make a difference, and they can be mutually beneficial. For example, consider equity investments or loans, as well as entrepreneurial approaches and investments. 
  • Seek assistance: Philanthropy is a broad topic. Draw on the knowledge of professionals who have been working in the field for some time, such as the UBS philanthropy experts

And finally: enjoy the journey! Passion and joy are the essence of effective philanthropy. 

Would you like to delve even deeper into the subject of philanthropy? You will find useful information about philanthropy and be able to contact our experts on the UBS philanthropy website.

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