At the JFN: How not to give


I’m sitting in a panel now that gets to the heart of the philanthropic times: “Growing demands, less capital: the funder’s dilemma."

Steven Cohen is moderating the discussion between philanthropists Alisa Doctoroff of the Doctoroff Family Foundation, Benny Levin of Israel Venture Network and Katharina Rosqueta, the executive director of The Center of High Impact Philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania.

Cohen asks, “How do you say no?”

Rosqueta’s job is essentially to provide tools to help philanthropists answer that question, and there is the demand out there now, she said.

Levin, who is a venture philanthropist in Israel, said essentially that you have to give the cold straight truth.

“In general, it’s like a business. You have to make tough decisions or you won’t survive,” he said, adding that the IVN will be cutting back on education programming and funding to some Israeli municipalities. In terms of cutting funding, the IVN also looks for organizations “we can’t scale up, and where there is no exit strategy for an organization to decrease its reliance on donors.”

IVN also spends a lot of time talking to the organizations it funds about where they can cut costs for the good of their organization.

Doctoroff acknowledged that it is hard, but sometimes it is necessary to stick to your guns because an organization just is no longer a wise investment.

“There is an organization I have been involved with for many many years. It has a very small board, and I have been telling them for years that they needed to go beyond this small group, and unless they did that their future would be in doubt, and that I was going to withdraw my support.” she said. “They didn’t and it happened this year.”

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