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Collaboration: key to greater impact for philanthropists?

January 13, 2022

reading time: 4 minutes

by Tilmann Schaal, LGT

3 questions on collaboration in philanthropy

Philanthropists aim to maximize their impact – so why don’t they collaborate more often?

In this episode of our series "3 questions to...", philanthropy specialist Nina Hoas provides some interesting insights into the world of giving. In her brief interview, the Head of Philanthropy Advisory of LGT Bank lobbies for foundations and other philanthropic entities to maximize the impact of their giving in becoming more collaborative with each other.  

1.Why is it so difficult for philanthropists to collaborate with each other?

Many philanthropists I have had the pleasure of working with, have made their wealth in business and are used to competing with others rather than collaborating. Collaboration means you have to give up some of the flexibility of your philanthropy in favor of a larger impact. Many are simply not interested in this trade-off.

This is not specific to the world of philanthropy. Deep and meaningful collaboration is difficult to create and manage over time. On the other hand, the most experienced philanthropists I have worked with tend to be the ones that are most willing to collaborate with others.

“Many foundations recognize the importance of collaboration and partnership, with both peer organizations and government, to achieve impact and scale. However, such alliances can be difficult to create, manage, and sustain.”

«Perspectives on the global foundation sector», Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government (2018)

2. Meanwhile, there would be a lot of potential in collaboration. What can be achieved in becoming more collaborative?

To me it’s very clear: collaboration can lead to bigger and more sustainable impact on some of the world’s most difficult problems. Most philanthropy is unfortunately very dispersed, and while many philanthropists have admirable intentions, unless they collaborate with others, they remain at the level of funding individual projects… I’m not sure we can really change our world with projects only.

collaboration in philanthropy
“Collaboration can lead to bigger and more sustainable impact on some of the world’s most difficult problems.” Nina Hoas, Head of Philanthropy Advisory der LGT Bank. Photo © GettyImages/Westend61.

Collaboration also helps mutual learning and when done well, it can actually be very enjoyable for philanthropists to work with peers and others. It can also help drive so much more efficiency in the system. In any other industry, you would have already seen so much more consolidation.

3. Which philanthropists have you benefited most from?

I’ve had the privilege to work with philanthropists at various stages of their journeys. I find self-made entrepreneurs to be the most risk-taking and willing to collaborate with others. They also usually do not mind sharing what they have learned.

For the LGT Guide on Strategic Philanthropy we were fortunate enough to have more than 30 philanthropists from around the world share their learnings in concise case stories with us. Personally, I find that women philanthropists tend to be more open to working with others – some of the philanthropists I am closest with are these amazing women. I also find that the next generations of wealth holders are re-thinking the patterns and ways of being philanthropic – I enjoy their creativity and drive very much.

Philanthropy Advisory at LGT

The Philanthropy Advisory team at LGT Bank (Linkedin) supports philanthropists at all stages of their philanthropic journey. Together we seek solutions to help families maximize their positive social and environmental impact and to engage with, and learn from, peers and experts through our philanthropists' network.

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