#101 Preview of Season Two, With Sybil Ackerman-Munson Host of Do Your Good Podcast

Nov 01, 2022

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Sybil looks back at the last 100 Episodes of the podcast. She shares the inspiration behind the start of the podcast, and what you can look forward to hearing in Season Two.  Sybil gives a brief explanation of the three major types of donors and how recent trends affect the way they give. Stay tuned to season two for a more in-depth look. 


Episode Highlights:

  • The inspiration behind Do Your Good Podcast
  • Getting back to the basics of why people give
  • The three types of donors


Sybil Ackerman-Munson Bio:

With over 20 years of experience as a nonprofit professional and foundation advisor, I work with philanthropic institutions and foundations interested in successful, high-impact grant making, so you can make a true and lasting positive contribution to the world on your terms.


If you enjoyed this episode, listen to these as well:

#92 My Mom’s Advice About Effective Funding Strategies with Susan Rose-Ackerman, Henry R. Luce Professor of Jurisprudence (Law and Political Science), Yale University, Emeritus

#86 - Sybil Speaks: Benefits and drawbacks of anonymous donations.

#8 Sybil Speaks: Tips on How to Make Your Money Matter


Crack the Code: Sybil’s Successful Guide to Philanthropy

Become even better at what you do as Sybil teaches you the strategies as well as the tools, you’ll need to avoid mistakes and make a career out of philanthropy through my new course, Crack the Code!


In this new course, you’ll gain access to beautifully animated and filmed engaging videos, and many more! 


 Connect with Do Your Good


Would you like to talk with Sybil directly?

Send in your inquiries through her website www.doyourgood.com, or you can email her directly at [email protected]!


Full Transcript

Hello everybody, I am just so happy right now because I'm talking to you after doing over 100 episodes. It's amazing. 

A couple of years ago, I said to myself, I want to do a podcast and I want to do it about giving away money effectively. As you all know, if you've been loyal listeners, I have worked with donors for over a decade. and helped them give away over $45 million in donations. And I also get pitched by nonprofits every single day. I process 150 to 200 proposals a year, so I felt like it was my responsibility to start a conversation in the podcasting world, we could think about how to give money away effectively. 

One of the reasons I was motivated to do this is because I always hear about folks in the foundation world offering up ideas that are like the silver bullet of how to give money. Anyway, they always act like, "Oh, this is the best way, the only way.” because of the mistakes that donors have made in the past. And I sort of bristle against this. I think that great ideas are being put forth. out into the sphere. The donor’s sphere.  Wonderful ideas, but I don't think any of our ideas are alone. 

The only way to go I think that giving is a very personal thing, and the first thing that you need to do is figure out for yourself how you want to show up in the donor world. And then take the key ideas that you've heard about from the world and use them to the best of your ability. If you aren't clear on how you want to give first, then I think any of these tools aren't going to work for you very well. I bristle against the trends. 

As part of my podcast series, I've interviewed lots and lots of people who've chosen a variety of different ways to give, and whom I think to do it well, and so we've investigated these things. I've also thought about and talked with my guests about things like how you support nonprofits as they go through leadership transitions and so many other fun and interesting journeys. 

And so, I decided to go on a long horseback ride. If you guys know me, you know that when I go on long trail rides, that's how I sort of sort out my thoughts. I went on a long trailer the other day and I thought about how I was having all these great interviews and reasons why I do it all, but I think for season two, I'm going to organize everything more systematically. 

Every single month I'm going to focus on a specific theme in giving and drill down into it. I'm going to have a conversation with my husband. We're going to research the key issue that we think is important to think about for effective giving strategy and we're going to talk about it. We're going to do research and talk, and we do this over dinner all the time. He is also a funder, and he runs a foundation in the Seattle area, so we just have so much fun talking about it. I thought, "Why don't we focus on a theme and dig in for one episode a month? So that's twelve key themes. 

Then what I'm going to do for the other three, because each month has four episodes through the other three episodes for each month, I'm going to do interviews and discussions. I will also be available to talk to you about the theme that my husband and I decided on. I'm digging into it for that month.

It's just so exciting to me because now I feel like I'll be able. It's sort of like a paper. Have you guys ever written a paper where you write your first draft, and you write a whole bunch of exciting things? Ideas that you care about to me, that's season one, where I've like interviewed a whole bunch of people and talked about a whole bunch of interesting things. And I hope you enjoy all those interviews and my discussions. And now, what I want to do I'm going to organize it like a final report where I'm going to dig into these themes. 

OK, so for this first episode though, let me talk to you a little bit about the themes and ideas I plan to talk about them in more depth during the upcoming year, and then I'm also going to my husband, we sat down over a glass of wine and started talking about the themes. It could be, and I thought it would be fun. We recorded it, and so I thought it would be fun. I'm going to break it up over a few episodes this fall so that you can sort of hear what our thought process is and get into it. I also open it up to you, my loyal listeners, to offer us topics and ideas that we should be researching and thinking about. If you want to offer your ideas, please DM me on Instagram at the @DoYourGood You can find me there, and I'd be happy to hear any of your thoughts because we would love to focus on key themes that you all, my lawyer listeners, care about. 

So just a few of the things that Fred and I talked about that we want to dig into this upcoming year in season two. 

Is it, first of all, just basic stuff?

Why do people give? What are their motivations? There's a lot of information out there and a lot of documentation out there about what motivates people willing to give the trends in giving in terms of What are the areas and issues that people end up leaning into, and we want to talk about this because I think it links to how we both bristle at people who say there's only one right way to give and there's these locked in trends. Rather, we want to look at where people are giving, what their motivations are, and think about that in-depth because that's something I talk about a lot in terms of like focusing on who you are. And I have keys, key tips, and tricks to be able to make sure that you're leaning into the issues you care about and not what you think other people think you should fund. Because that, I think, is a huge number one mistake. Because then what happens is you'll be giving, but then you'll lose interest in it because it won't mean anything to you deeply. 

But we will talk about this because there is a trend that is pushing back against that. That's saying you don't know pretty much anything and so you just need to give money and not focusing on what it is you care about is a mistake. Because then, as I said before, what will happen is you, as a donor, will just stop. You'll stop giving. I mean, you don't have to give me You want to, you want to do good in the world, but you don't have to. And if you get frustrated, you won't keep doing it. And you also could easily waste money and waste time if you don't know the issue well enough. Because you'll be given to perhaps the wrong groups and other things, and you won't even know it because you'll be in what I call a funder bubble where people will just be saying yes to you all the time. And you won't have that regular back and forth, so that's the Loop I want to keep you from getting into that.

I think you can get stuck in that if you lean too much into what you think the trend is. The quote-unquote right way to go If it's not the way to give, that's linked to who you are. OK, so Fred and I are going to talk about that in-depth, definitely during this season, and what does that mean? And I'm also going to be testing my assumptions here. I'm telling you all these things because I have done a bunch of research and I have years and years of experience to tell you why I'm thinking about this, but we're going to dig into it more. You know, and Fred's the best person in the world to push back on me. Regarding things and he's super smart about this stuff too, so we have a great conversation there. 

Just a few other things that we were talking about discussing and delving deeper into Some things include the idea that these are trends that we've seen over the years, and we're going to talk about 

The idea of What we call "spend down" So a lot of foundations are recent. Only families with wealth have said they want to spend all their money. Well, the person who has made the money says they want to spend all the money before they die. They pass away. They do not want to have that wealth continue.

Other foundations and families who have created foundations say they want to keep our foundation. In what we call "perpetuity," the money would stay multiple generations through multiple generations, and the family would continue to give money away over time. 

And there are reasons that families and donors feel very strongly about one or the other. Most recently, the slowed-down version of this piece has been promoted as a trend. However, there are strong reasons to keep money in perpetuity, and there are also reasons to spend it down. It depends on the kind of person you are and what you care about.

I plan to dig into this and do a lot of research. on it and have it been a This is an extremely important topic. Because it isn't just about spending down or not spending down, it's a societal question of how wealth should be transferred. Should it be transferred all at once, or should it focus on an issue over many decades or millennia? 

And so, it links into whether you believe that folks should not have this kind of wealth. And so, you want to transfer that wealth to the people right away. Or if you feel like our issues are so systemic that you feel the money should stay with your family and you have very clear guidance. Like if you care about houselessness or climate change. To the future generations of people in your family, you continue to have that culture of giving. And if you feel that the family will be wealthy over many generations because you have that privilege, you feel it's important to keep the money in the family so that they can continue to have that ethic of giving in the area you care about and that can Also, it's really important.

This is the kind of issue that we want to tackle. I'm going to delve into it, and then I'm going to have a nice conversation with my husband about it too over a podcast with lots of research done and that kind of thing.

Another is the trend that we want to talk about. That's what we've seen recently. There's a trend that says you need to, as a donor, give your money with really no strings attached, and I'm being extreme to just explain it here, but we're going to talk about it in even more detail. So essentially, you need to give your donation to the non-profits, and not ask questions if you do non-professional research. But if it's doing what you care about in general, don't require much paperwork and move forward, and there are positive things about doing that. 

One is that, especially when there are small nonprofits that can’t do a whole lot of paperwork and you want to get the money out the door. That's a great way to support these organizations, especially when you want to support these Organizations

This is something that many people in the diversity, equity, and inclusion space are focusing on.  You as a donor. Don't want to be too burdensome, and if you're a donor who isn't particularly knowledgeable about diversity, equity, and inclusion issues, you should be present. I agree with this. 

However, I also think there are times when a donor does want to be more hands-on and there are critical moments. If we don't in the world of giving donations if we don't lean in a little, then that can cause more harm than good as well. In the nonprofit space, for example, if you are hands-off but you're not doing enough research to know which nonprofits to give to, you could end up inadvertently giving to a nonprofit that might be flashier and better at fundraising, but then there might be some other nonprofits that are doing the work, but they haven't gotten in front of you, and you want to be sure you lean in and fund those kinds of organizations, and that can be a challenge if you're giving money and not asking any questions afterward, so there's a lot of push and pull here that I want to dig into in season 2. 


Another thing my husband and I talked about wanting to focus on is what I've talked about in my mini-courses and a lot of my things, which is that I see three different types of donors. A sustainer kind of donor, a campaigner kind of donor, or a launcher donor.

If you're a loyal listener of mine or if you have taken any of my courses, that this is like the bedrock of my teachings and the reason I have this teaching is that there are three different types of donors, and you need to decide which of the three you want to lean into. 

This is sort of my rebuttal to trends because there have been trends in the sustainer category where people say, "Oh, everyone should be a sustainer," which means you just give money to nonprofits year after year and ask very few questions once you've done the preliminary research on the non-profit itself, 

Then there's the campaigner kind of donor, which was a trend when I started as a foundation person and campaigner donor, it was more the idea that a donor is worried about a societal issue and some major changes have to happen. And so, the campaigner ends up funding more projects. To try to change that major hurdle that's in the way. 

So, say you're interested in promoting homes for the houseless, but you notice that there are land use plans that are impeding your ability to build more buildings or there are loan programs that aren't being effectively implemented and change needs to happen to create more housing. 

That's a big challenge that's standing in the way of what you care about, and so you might need to... The nonprofits might come to you and say there's a campaign where we need more money to push this in the next two to three years, and so that's different from just giving funds year after year, you're going to add money to help them do things like communications and a whole bunch of other things that they might not need year after year, but you need to support them as a campaign funder.


A launcher funder likes to start new things from scratch. They're like the venture capitalists of the donor world for nonprofits. And they want They care about finding the gaps in the issues they care about, and so that's a whole different way of funding. 

And so, nonprofits need to know that there are three different types of funders so that they can approach them differently, rather than if they come to a launcher type funder and tell them you need to fund me year after year and be quiet after that. That won't work. The launcher funder will Just go away. They're not going to give you Their money and so that's why it's also important for the donors. I think one of the big things we get stuck on is that we look at the trends that are happening. And then, as a campaign funder, you go. Oh well, I care about this major issue, but I'm being told. I have to. give grants year after year and not ask questions, and so that conflicts with what I want to do and so therefore I'm. I'm not going to give, or I'm confused, and I don't have the tools to be a good campaign funder. 

When I started, in this space over a decade ago, there was a transition going on where, before when I was starting, the main trend was more like a donor was supposed to be like a benevolent banker. They were just going to give money out and people would come and ask for money, and the big push then was for Donors to act as campaigners in the same way that funders can in the advocacy space. It's allowed as long as you don't run afoul of the laws. You can't fund lobbying, but there's a lot you can do to support these key projects that nonprofits are asking for support for. 

So, there's a big push there, so I came into the world of funding as a campaigner funder. And my first client was more of a campaign funder and now I'm seeing, after a decade of that, folks pushing back on that and saying wait, wait, we need to have a more sustainable kind of funding, which is more of that benevolent banker kind of approach. 

And so, I've seen the full circle of these trends, and that's why I wanted to talk. 

I'm going to dig into the three different types of donors that I see, and I'm going to talk about them. With my husband, I'm going to do some interviews with different folks. I might do some replays of some of the episodes I did in the past where I was investigating all of this with different types of donors and It's a key issue, we need to dig into it. 

There are so many more issues that my husband and I talked about potentially really digging into and I have a long list of them. So, what I'm going to do is I'm going to put that I'm going to put up. We recorded a bunch of conversations around what some suggestions could be I’m going to put that up now as not right now but in future episodes of season two.

And then, what I'm going to start doing in December 2022. But then in earnest for the whole year of 2023, each month is Like I said before, I'm going to have a theme of a key issue, and we're going to dig into it so that you as a donor can think about where you stand on these really important issues so that You can be the best funder you can be for the nonprofits and the causes you care about. 

I think this is important. Because like I said before, if you don't have a place where you can think through these trends and decide if the specific trend or approach to giving is what's good for you, you're going to get stuck. You're going to end up wasting money, and you're going to end up wasting valuable time for the nonprofits. 

And so that's what season 2 is all about please, please, if you have any ideas for key issues that you have been struggling with as a donor DM me.  I asked my husband to think it through with me through a whole month of back and forth and conversations and interviews with experts who reached out to me on Instagram. @Doyourgood and DM me. I will be watching. 

Thanks so much, and I hope you are having a wonderful day. Do well and be good.