AL Advising

Philanthropic and Political Consulting

Philanthropy is like wine: good grapes plus good terroir makes good wine. Candidates and organizations are the grapes you wish to cultivate; they need care, pruning, monitoring, and yes, sometimes they need to wither on the vine. Terroir includes the resources you start with and what you can add such as mission, staff, and money.

AL Advising is the winemaker: we work with both donors and organizations to maximize impact.

When giving, remember

In the wake of the earthquake in Nepal, unrest in Baltimore, and marriage equality before the Supreme Court, I feel like I'm being asked to give more and more often than ever before.

With so many organizations trying to do good, disaster response and efforts to capitalize on a political "moment" can leave a donor confused. And, sadly, there are some fraudulent efforts in the charitable world and not all organizations are created equal when it comes to ROI and impact.

Charity Navigator is an excellent resource for researching quick decisions. While it's criteria is not perfect, it rates 501c3 organizations on a variety of metrics. It's site to help victims of the Nepal earthquake, for instance, lists several dozen organizations. Many are well-known, well-funded, and consistently audited organizations that allow giving with confidence.

Other crisis, like the one currently happening in Baltimore, are harder to evaluate from a donation standpoint. There are often few organizations of scale or who have gone through significant vetting. It's tough to demand that a $300,000 per year organization spend 10% of it's budget on an annual audit. In many cases, though, these organizations are closest to the ground and best understand the needs of the community. Baltimore United for Change has a fundraising site for a coalition of community empowerment organizations responding to the current crisis and planning for long-term change. Local elected officials have said toiletries and kid-friendly food are the urgent donation needs. 

So, when giving, remember that a) everything helps; b) a little research can go a long way; and c) sometimes you have to take a leap of faith with smaller organizations on the ground.