An Approach to More Impactful Philanthropy

At its root, philanthropy is an act of love.  As the philanthropic sector evolves, there is a growing focus on how to fuel that loving act by balancing measurable impact with equity and systems change. This includes radically changing the practice of philanthropy. As we enter Maverick Collective’s 10th year of working with a community of women philanthropists through an experiential model that blends real-dollar grantmaking with hands-on learning, we believe we’ve achieved this balance.

We synthesized our decade of experience and learning from working closely with more than 40 Maverick members and dozens of incredible partners and philanthropy thought-leaders, and created an easy to understand, high-level approach that leads to more impactful and equitable philanthropists—our new 3-A Framework. Through this approach – which supports donors to become more authentic, accountable, and activated agents of social change – we’ve witnessed how this kind of personal transformation leads to transformation of the philanthropy sector through greater trust and centering proximate leaders. That transformation is critical to achieve a more equitable and just world.

I really wanted to [gain] an understanding of how to be an impactful philanthropist, and the educational model of Maverick Next was something that was attractive to me…. I loved the idea of collaborating with other women, of rolling up my sleeves and going into the field and speaking to these women.

Rather than focus on where to prioritize giving, or whom to give to, our 3-A Framework can be used by anyone interested in making philanthropy more impactful and equitable through sharing power, collective action, and bold giving.

Marisa Bass

I think I've taken away a lot of how-to and it's changed how I look at additional grants, how I think about my philanthropic activities, and also, a lot of lessons learned on how to help girls not only in Ethiopia but around the world.

A is for…..

Authentic. Aim to learn, rather than dictate; build partnerships based on mutual respect and gratitude; and cultivate an environment of shared power, trust, and active listening. This means being aware of the power dynamics that exist between you as a donor and the organizations you support and showing up ready to engage and to learn.

Having trusting, transparent, and even humor-filled relationships that are human and with the people who you're working with and relying on to live out the intent of your gift is really, really important. And that it can be a process, that while not void of difficulty, can include fun and creative problem solving together.

Accountable. Commit to moving more money toward dismantling systemic barriers and solving for root causes, rather than looking for quick wins.  Champion accountability first to impacted communities and work in solidarity through trust and shifting power to those who are leading the work, day in and out. Be accountable to the organizations you support, just as they are accountable to you.

English Sall

From a Maverick member perspective, this project in so many ways is how I was able to grow up as a philanthropist in the space of global development. And it was because this [project] team was so collaborative, and I got to sit with the team in a way I’ve never been able to do in other contexts…and that was such an amazing learning environment.

Activated. Take more risks by funding unproven and potentially game-changing ideas. Be active in the movements that you are supporting, using your full range of capital (intellectual, social, political, and financial) to reimagine more equitable systems. And commit for the long-term to the issues and organizations you care about.

Because of the [India Cervical Cancer Screening] project, I became very aware of the big problem of cervical cancer globally and how it affects women. We still have this problem globally and there just didn’t seem to be the attention or funding that’s necessary, and so, I started this organization called TogetHER. And what we are specifically trying to do is, among other things, is to get more funding for Cervical Cancer.

When applied together, each component of the 3-A Framework provides philanthropists with the tools to become more informed and effective donors.  However, to create a seismic shift in the philanthropic sector we need to utilize collective action through community — an element that is often overlooked. Rather than working alone, imagine a collective of women philanthropists giving with these values and amplifying their investments through the power of community — this is Maverick Collective.  When our members embrace their accountability; align with their authenticity; and move into action, alongside their community, we see more social impact for women and girls everywhere.

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