Factoring in Talent to Your Philanthropy

Each month, an expert from the liberty movement will share thoughts on how to be more strategic in our charitable giving.  This month, talent expert Claire Kittle Dixon, executive director of TalentMarket, discusses how donors can weigh talent and leadership into their support for an organization.

If you ask a free-market nonprofit leader what his two biggest constraints to success are, the answer will likely be money and talent.

As a donor, you are well acquainted with the financial needs of nonprofits; but do you also think about how talent plays into the equation? In my role helping liberty-oriented organizations find talent, I see just how critical human capital is. And what I’ve witnessed leads me to believe that donors should proactively factor talent into their philanthropic decisions.

Specifically, there are three items a donor might want to consider:

1. Foster Talent Inside the Organizations You Support

Fostering talent requires an investment of time and, sometimes, money. First, get to know the leaders of the organizations you support. Build meaningful relationships and open lines of communication for them to reach out to you for guidance and advice.

But don’t just get to know the managers – get to know the staff as well. The mid-level communications manager sitting in the center cubicle might be running the organization in five years – and your mentoring might be the key to getting her there.

Moreover, ask helpful questions. What human-capital needs does the organization have? Would the organization benefit from your sponsorship of an internship program? How about the funding of a critically needed position to help the organization run more effectively and efficiently (such as an operations director to help free up the president’s time to focus on bigger picture strategy and fundraising)? How else can you be of service as it relates to talent? Are there introductions you can make that might prove valuable to the institution?

2. Look for Talent-Related Red Flags

Before you stroke that next check to your favorite organization, look for talent-related red flags. Does the organization experience high turnover? Why? Does the organization have reputation problems among the donor community or among like-minded organizations? Are there significant personnel issues holding the organization back? Looking for these red flags will be much easier if you’ve gotten to know the organization’s leader and staff, and doing so will ensure that your financial support is being put to good use.

3. Invest in Liberty-Minded Talent

Finally, there are a multitude of opportunities to invest in developing talent. Organizations such as America’s Future Foundation, State Policy Network, Atlas Network, Leadership Institute, and the Charles Koch Institute are cultivating talent for the free-market nonprofit universe.

Meanwhile, nonprofits such as Foundation for Economic Education, Ashbrook Center, Institute for Humane Studies, John Jay Institute, The Fund for American Studies, Claremont Institute, Intercollegiate Studies Institute, and Bill of Rights Institute are educating about the ideas of liberty.

Organizations such as Young America’s Foundation, Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute, Students for Liberty, Generation Opportunity, and Young Americans for Liberty are energizing the next generation to get involved in the fight for liberty.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Talent Market, an organization dedicated to helping free-market nonprofits find the talent they need to be successful.

Next to financial resources, human capital is the most critical component to winning the war against an ever-expanding government and evaporating freedoms. Even if liberty-oriented organizations are well-financed, they cannot succeed without human capital. Factoring talent into your philanthropy will leverage your existing investments in the liberty movement and ensure the right people are in place to generate change.

Claire Kittle DixonClaire Kittle Dixon is executive director of TalentMarket (an entity of DonorsTrust).  Since its inception in 2009, Talent Market has placed more than 270 individuals in key roles across more than 160 nonprofits in the free-market nonprofit sector.


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