The Sunk Cost Fallacy – 5 Red-Flags That Tell You It Might Be Time to Move On

Posted by on Aug 14, 2018 in Articles, Blog

I recently read an article on behavioral research about the sunk cost fallacy (The Economist, 6-2-18)and it got me thinking about how much of this goes on in philanthropy. As many economists and writers have described, the sunk cost fallacy is irrational decision-making driven by emotion and based on past investments – and which disregards actual data and experience. Put more succinctly, it’s the proverbial practice of throwing good money after bad. I’m not talking here about the hard work of tackling significant problems that take years of focus and commitment to have an impact on. I am talking about foundations and nonprofits that continue to invest time and money in programs and initiatives that aren’t going anywhere soon… but maybe if we give it one more year of funding or another redesign or hire different staff, then we’ll see some change. Or more likely, maybe not. As I’ve written before, knowing the difference between when to stay the course and when to pull the plug – and having the gumption to do so – is called leadership. Here are five red-flags that suggest the sunk cost fallacy may be driving your decision-making to put more time and money into a project or organization when it’s actually better to move on: You see lots of “activity” going on and very little real action There’s no evidence of substantial change, and there’s an inability and/or hesitance to set measurable objectives or targets Senior leadership stops showing up for meetings or they start sending their lieutenants Meetings result in agreements to have more meetings and not much else It’s a favorite endeavor of one or more board members and easier to keep funding it or working on it rather than calling the question. If you see these red-flags popping up in your work, hit the pause button to re-consider if and how you continue your efforts. For more information on how we help foundations and nonprofits strengthen their impact through strategic planning, evaluation and organizational development, contact Jeff Glebocki or...

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A Must Read Article on Foundation Transparency

Posted by on Jun 13, 2018 in Articles, Blog

Transparency has become a watchword in private philanthropy, but far too much of the discussion of this timely topic remains steeped in opinion rather than research. A new Foundation Review article reports critically important and some surprising findings from new research not previously addressed in foundation literature. This article provides new guidance regarding potential benefits and risks inherent in foundation transparency practices. Foundations should carefully consider their transparency-related policy/strategy from perspectives framed in this article. The article is available for free download at the Foundation Review. I encourage you to read this article as you think about transparency within your foundation. A tip of the hat to colleague and author Bob Reid, CEO of the J.F Maddox...

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Funding Opportunity for Foundations & Their Grant Partners

Posted by on May 17, 2018 in Articles, Blog

I don’t usually work the fundraising side of the street, but here’s a unique opportunity for foundations and their grant partners to ramp up their work together. The Fund for Shared Insight is now acceptingapplications for Listen for Good grants. Submissions are due by June 29, 2018; click here for all the details. Listen for Good is “an initiative dedicated to building the practice of listening to the people we seek to help.” Nonprofits and funders are invited to join this effort “to explore simple but systematic and rigorous ways of getting feedback” from people philanthropy is meant to serve. In non-foundation-speak, this is helpful market research for nonprofit service providers and the grantmakers who fund them. Local funders nominate a nonprofit grantee and commit to providing $15,000 to $30,000 for selected organizations in addition to the funding the nonprofit receives through the Listen for Good initiative. This national funding partnership, supported by 69 co-founders, has made 158 grants totaling more than $21 million across the country. Hint: The Fund for Shared Insight has not received as many applications in the past from the Midwest, Upper Midwest and the Western US as other parts of the country. This is an opportunity to change...

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3 Reasons to Plan for Leadership Succession Now

Posted by on Mar 29, 2018 in Articles, Blog

Research tells us that most foundations and almost half of nonprofits nationally do not have written leadership succession plans in place. Here are three reasons to start succession planning in your organization now.

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Advocacy – Yes, you can!

Posted by on Feb 22, 2018 in Articles, Blog

“I thought nonprofit organizations weren’t allowed to participate in advocacy.”  “Foundations can’t fund advocacy efforts…can they?” Well, actually, nonprofits can advocate and foundations can (and should) provide support for them to do so! One of the best resources for both foundations and nonprofits on the topic is Bolder Advocacy, an initiative of Alliance for Justice. If you are a nonprofit, check out their Advocacy Capacity Tool to benchmark your advocacy skills and help determine resource allocation for your efforts. If you are a foundation, look into the Philanthropy Advocacy Playbook to get your questions answered on legal rules and how to leverage your grantmaking by supporting advocacy activities. For more information, or...

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What’s Your Giving Style?

Posted by on Jan 27, 2018 in Articles, Blog

The flurry of year-end activity has subsided and the 2017 book is closed.  Now is a good time to reflect on your strategy for philanthropic giving – and not only because new tax deductions are on the horizon! Did your philanthropic strategy fulfill your goals? The folks at WiserGiving have created a simple 7-question quiz that reveals insights into what you are trying to accomplish through your charitable contributions. In this free, online survey, you will learn about your personal Giving Style and how to align your core beliefs with philanthropic strategies to effect meaningful change. You may find your current giving is “spot-on” with your Style, or you might have an “a-ha” moment and begin considering some adjustments for 2018. Thousands of people have taken the WiserGiving Style Quiz.  Philanthropic and wealth management advisors and savvy donors know the more aligned your giving is with your core values, the more strategic, impactful and personally satisfying your actions will be. Strategy + Action/Philanthropy is partnering with WiserGiving ( to share these tools with you. If you’d like to learn more about how to use the Giving Style Quiz or other WiserGiving tools for yourself, your family or your board, contact Jeff Glebocki...

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