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Do More Than Give (Crutchfield, Kania, and Kramer): “Back to School” Book Report by Melinda Tuan

October 13, 2011

Melinda Tuan

This is the fifth in a series of “Back to School” book reports by members of our team. We selected books based on their potential to help us in our own work to identify high-impact philanthropic opportunities and help donors improve their philanthropic impact. We hope this series helps make some of our own learning transparent so that others may benefit. This week’s “Back to School” book report is by Melinda Tuan, Senior Fellow.

“This book doesn’t talk much about how to give away money…”

These are a few of the opening words from Crutchfield, Kania, and Kramer’s recently released book, Do More Than Give. What this book does talk about is how donors can “become more proactive players in solving problems and advancing the causes they care about.”

The authors lay out six practices of donors who change the world by using “catalytic” philanthropic practices to “produce an effect that is much greater than the sum of its parts.” Some of these donor practices include advocating for change and applying the donor’s business experience to their philanthropy.

While the focus of the book is primarily on institutional funders—ranging from the relatively small Tow Foundation to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation—the book provides one notable example of an individual donor in Tom Siebel, founder of the software company Siebel Systems, Inc. Siebel, who has personal ties to Montana, observed the immense cost of methamphetamine abuse to human lives and the state’s criminal justice system. Instead of just writing a check to a nonprofit to address the issue, Siebel used his background and skills as a marketing expert to create an advertising campaign to influence public opinion to prevent methamphetamine use.

Siebel’s $2 million annual advertising campaign generated nearly 60 TV ads and 40 radio ads per day, making Siebel the largest advertiser in Montana, eclipsing even McDonald’s. Results from independent surveys showed that teenage awareness of the dangers of meth increased from 25 percent to 93 percent over the time of Siebel’s initial campaign. Between 2005 and 2007, thanks in large part to Siebel’s catalytic philanthropic efforts, “meth use in Montana dropped 45 percent among teens and 72 percent among adults, and meth-related crimes fell 62 percent…the annual costs of meth to the state dropped by an estimated $100 million.” To see Siebel’s hard-hitting ad campaigns firsthand, visit www.montanameth.org.

Tom Siebel’s efforts reminded me of Warren Kantor, a philanthropist and speaker at the Center’s inaugural donor seminar focused on the needs of vulnerable families during the economic downturn.
Like Siebel, Kantor linked his observations of the elderly and his business experience—in this case, credit card marketing—to make sure eligible low-income senior citizens gained access to needed benefits, such as prescription assistance, Medicare, food stamps and property tax relief. Kantor’s work is now the focus of a USDA pilot to further expand the program. His organization, Benefits Data Trust, is profiled along with other benefit access models in the Center’s donor guide, High Impact Philanthropy in the Downturn.

What the authors of this book illustrate is that any donor—small foundation, large foundation, or individual—has the opportunity to “do more than give”…and achieve the kind of high impact we all seek.

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