Have you seen the new Netflix documentary “Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates”? If you haven’t, you should! The film does a great job of illustrating how philanthropy can be, in the words of educator Paul Ylvisaker, “society’s passing gear.” It also offers great lessons for donors who don’t have Gates’s stratospheric wealth.

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Last month’s update, “Fool Me Ten Times, Shame on Me,” struck a chord with many of you. This month, we’ll stay with the theme of unforced funder errors and share five more examples of 💩 that funders routinely step in.

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This week, Lowell will conduct the first of a series of learning sessions for an entrepreneur at the very beginning of his philanthropic journey. He’ll ground the session in borrowed wisdom from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Tom Reis: “All new philanthropists get a black eye. That’s fine—and can actually be a good learning experience. But if they get ten black eyes, they’ll say, ‘To hell with it!’ So help them avoid repeated black eyes. Help them learn from others’ mistakes.”

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One of Lowell’s foundation clients is in the midst of a generational succession and looking with new eyes at some long-established practices. Two practices under review are the foundation’s default…

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In the fourth installment of our continuing series of mini essays on the “Five Habits of Highly Effective Funders,” we turn this month to this core habit: “Effective foundations help grantees strengthen their organizations, not just programs.” Thanks to a productive meeting we attended last week at the Ford Foundation, we’re charged up with new insights to share. The leaders of Ford’s BUILD initiative convened the meeting with…

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In our continuing series of mini essays unpacking each of the “Five Habits of Highly Effective Funders,” we’re going to drill down on the number-one success factor for foundations that aspire to help grantees become high-performance organizations: having talented, empathetic leaders at the trustee and executive levels. Lowell just got an inspiring dose of…

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Over the coming months, we’ll unpack “Five Habits of Highly Effective Funders.” Last month, we offered greater specificity about how highly effective funders manage to build bonds of trust with their grantees, despite the inevitable power differential. This month, we’re going to look at another one of the habits: “Effective foundations exemplify a ‘growth mindset.’” Our timing for this post isn’t…

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This month we’re going to share some of the key lessons we’ve learned about how highly effective funders have successfully built trust with their grantees. We’ve drawn them from Edelsberg, Bonbright, and other experts in the…

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Lowell recently started advising a Seattle-based technology entrepreneur who’s right at the beginning of his philanthropic journey. This new donor posed a question we wish all new donors would ask: “What do I need to do if I want to be effective at this?”

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To kick off the new year, we want to spark a conversation that clearly demands our attention this year: how our sector can make smart use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), the latter a form of AI that can learn…

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