Sitawi recommends ? “It's not what you give, it's how you give”

Caroline Fiennes, with whom I had lunch in London after the 2012 Skoll World Conference on Social Entrepreneurship, has just launched the book ?It ain?t what you give, it?s the way that you give? ? ?It's not what you donate, but how you donate?, in free translation.

The book brings important concepts for donors and social organizations. Its central thesis states that to improve the world to the fullest, donors must follow four principles: 1) use all their assets, 2) make informed decisions, 3) help, not hinder, and 4) maximize what already exists.

In addition to being simple, the principles addressed in the book cause significant reflection. One of the concepts addressed illustrates that the percentage of administrative expenses of a social organization is not a relevant variable to assess its impact. In fact, this may even be the opposite of what we would naturally think: organizations that invest more in their professionals should generate better results, as more prepared people can design and implement more effective strategies. However, administrative expenses do not have a correlation with social impact and therefore we can observe extremely efficient organizations with low costs and high impact and institutions with high costs and little impact.

About ?help, not hinder?, Caroline describes a situation that seems unusual where a donor manages to generate costs for the social sector greater than his own donation. Many organizations, for example, end up investing valuable time and resources in tasks secondary to their social impact, such as resource application processes and laborious reports.

Another interesting concept that the author addresses is the process of choosing which area a donor should support: starting with "where is your passion?", more rational questions follow about assets, available skills and the trade-off between outreach actions limited and more likely impact and longer-term actions, difficult to follow, but with a much greater potential impact.

The book still emphasizes the ?randomized clinical trials? to attribute the impact of social interventions, which is rarely done (in Brazil or the United Kingdom), but is still a good aspiration.

Carolina is the director of Giving Evidence ? company specializing in counseling for philanthropists. She has advised thousands of donors on the effective use of their resources, including Eurostar, ERM (the world's largest environmental consultancy), Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts, Big Lottery Fund, BBC Children in Need, families, individuals and governments. Previously, Carolina led New Philanthropy Capital and worked at Grupo Monitor as a consultant for strategy and sustainability.

Reading feels like a conversation in the living room of a friend, who happens to know a lot about philanthropy. I recommend!

Leonardo Letelier
Nobis Cartel

To buy the book, go to

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