The word philanthropy is a term that has its origins in ancient Greece, and the meaning (semantics) most often associated with it is a love of humankind.
Although, a precise and universally agreed meaning of philanthropy remains elusive, in large part because its definition is so highly dependent on the user's worldview as well as their point of view. Notwithstanding, in its broadest sense philanthropy can be seen as charitable giving on scale and with intent that is more than just a charitable donation.
The importance of that distinction will become evident as we delve into the matter.
Over the years, while serving as a member of the board of directors of a major charity, in the face of the gap left by government cutbacks, I have witnessed a steady growth in the number of clients served, but the ultimate end result, that is, a measure of successful philanthropy remains questionable.
One activity of the charity is to provide job readiness training classes, so that our clients can learn how to write a resume of their experiences and to prepare for hiring interviews. And yet, I often wonder how many of our clients landed jobs, and of those who did, how many actually found jobs that pay a living wage.
I observed emergency housing being provided to families who lost their living quarters and some all of their earthy possessions in an apartment fire, and wondered how many not only found new housing, but also assistance in getting their necessary and sundry personal items replaced that are so important to a sense of normality and well-being.
In final analysis results and outcomes are what truly matters. It is not how many start the classes or the race, but the number who finish that is a measure of the value of our interventions.
What is needed is an objective measure of philanthropic success, that is, a standard by which cost of input to successful outcome can be determined.
A business, for example, has the marketplace which acts as an arbiter against which the wisdom of its decision making and cost structure are reflected successfully or otherwise in its sells.
At its most basic rendering, a philanthropic success factor (PSF/$), should include the number of clients served, divided by the number of clients achieving predetermined results (goals) for the money given by the donor(s).
Thus, providing donors with an objective calculation that their money is being managed and is being spent wisely, successfully.
This number would become the standard measure of outcome base results, which provides a better indication of successful intervention than a mere count of the number of clients served.