PERSPECTIVE3-5 min to read

Maximising the impact of your giving: the role of philanthropy advisers

Should you think about working with a professional philanthropy adviser?



Rebecca Constable
Portfolio Director

Starting out in philanthropy can feel overwhelming. The challenges that charities seek to address – such as climate change or global poverty – can be so monumental that even huge sums of money feel like a drop in the ocean. It can also be hard to know exactly how to support a chosen cause. In most fields, there will probably be a large number of organisations with different styles and approaches. Do you want to support organisations trying to make a difference on the ground or influence policymakers so that governments and businesses are having more of an impact?

Whatever area you are interested in, and whichever approach appeals to you the most, it is important to remember that others have probably trodden this path before you. To maximise the impact of your giving, you should be drawing on this body of experience to understand how different approaches and organisations have approached these challenges. Some donors may already know what causes they want to support and how, through their existing philanthropy networks. For others, working with a professional philanthropy adviser may be the more effective approach. They can provide you with valuable guidance on how to make of the most of your giving. 

This will often start with understanding the causes that mean the most to you and mapping out the organisations working in those fields. A philanthropy adviser should be able to make introductions to donors who have given to these organisations, helping you understand the donor’s journey and what has been achieved.  

Even experienced donors can benefit from working with philanthropy advisers, by identifying ways in which you can maximise your giving – such as matched fundraising – and make introductions to new sources of support. They can provide you with a fresh perspective on the impact of your giving, especially valuable when you have been supporting a cause for many years.

Philanthropy advisers: who are they and how do they work?

Earlier this year, we hosted an interview and reception with the authors  Dr Beth Breeze and Emma Beeston, to launch their new book "Advising Philanthropists: Principles and Practice". Their research draws on interviews with 40 advisers from around the world and shows that there is a high degree of diversity amongst philanthropy advisers, who work with very different types of donors and levels of giving. Advisers can call upon experience from very different backgrounds, including fundraising, financial services and humanitarian organisations. Unsurprisingly, their business models vary significantly too. Some are full time employees of donors; others charge per hour or for a project.  

The breadth of experience in the sector ultimately makes it more likely that donors will find an adviser who can help them achieve their philanthropic goals.

As donors become aware of the scale of the challenge, they can sometimes face “analysis paralysis” –high quality advice on philanthropy can help cut through these obstacles and concerns. In so doing, it may also enhance both the quantum and quality of giving.

We have a strong network of adviser contacts and are very happy to make introductions. Speak to our Head of Philanthropy and Impact, Lyn Tomlinson at


Rebecca Constable
Portfolio Director



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The value of an investment and the income from it may go down as well as up and investors may not get back the amount originally invested.