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For immediate release (October 6, 2017) Media Contact: Judy Abelman Email: Phone: 440.725.8861...

One question guaranteed to save philanthropists time and money

By Kris Putnam-Walkerly

In my experience, the most effective philanthropists do one thing without fail — they ask the question guaranteed to save time and money, and achieve results. That question is this: “If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?”

If you ask that question of the nonprofits you support, the other organizations working on the same issue, and other funders that have attempted to do what you’re trying to do, I guarantee you will reap the benefits. Listen to what they have to say, implement their suggestions, and you will save your grant-making effort time, financial resources, and headaches. You will also achieve greater impact, and it will happen much faster than if you hadn’t asked the question.

Here are a few times when asking “If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?” will help you. Ask this question when you are:

  • Conducting a scan to determine your funding strategies or to develop a new funding program (you could ask this of other communities, other funders, nonprofits, potential grantees).
  • Assessing the impact of your grant-making strategy and determining what “phase 2” might look like (you could ask your grantees, partners, stakeholders, and even your own team).
  • Improving your foundation’s organizational practices, such as how you review grant proposals, communicate with nonprofits, become a Lean organization or improve your customer service (you could ask this of your board, and of other funders who have undertaken similar improvement efforts).

It’s simple, right? Ask the question, listen to the answers, implement the suggestions, save yourself time and resources, get faster results, and have greater impact. I guarantee it works.

Let me ask you a question: If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?

Kris Putnam-Walkerly, the president of Putnam Consulting Group, is a recognized expert and leader in philanthropic strategy development, implementation, evaluation, and communication. She can be reached at

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