Talent for Giving

By Abby Rolland

Grants & Communications Manager


Recently, the Center for High Impact Philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania hosted a webinar called “Talent for Giving: Building the Team to Help You Do Good.” Participants on the webinar included individuals, as well as representatives of foundations and corporations, who were interested in how they could maximize their giving by utilizing guidance and expertise from external parties.


In addition to posing several necessary questions for philanthropic individuals and/or entities to ask themselves (what issue or case area will you care about? What is the geographic area/s that you will serve?, what organizations will you fund, etc.), the speakers also listed several capabilities to look for when searching for philanthropic advising talent:


· Consulting/advising skills

· Comfort interacting w/ individuals in positions of power

· Familiarity w/ philanthropic tools

· Ability to gather relevant information from a variety of sources


These capabilities, as well as assessing what you want to get done, will help you discover what kind of assistance to ask for and whom to ask for it from.


In working with harp-weaver so far, I’ve learned that there are several skills and experiences that a philanthropic consulting firm can have/do. Teresa, the founder/principal of the firm, conducted an in-depth study for The Presser Foundation when she was first advising them during a transition phase. The study covered six areas including: Grants Management, Board Management, Recordkeeping & Accounting, Technology & Operations, Legal & Compliance, and Brand & Thought Leadership. Through her work with Social Venture Circle and on behalf of clients, she conducts due diligence on potential social enterprises that could be good investments, and she regularly manages the grantmaking and accounting processes for several family foundations.


As I (Abby) started in August, I’m still learning a great deal. However, I bring a different perspective that will inform harp-weaver’s work as well. I began my career working for a “traditional” nonprofit focused on hunger, worked in marketing and communications for years, and my master’s degree in philanthropic studies complements Teresa’s nonprofit leadership graduate degree and brings an academic lens to the work that we do.


harp-weaver works with many diverse clients and organizations. And, in addition to those skills and experiences, we also care deeply. While it’s obviously important to find certain skills in the talent that you’re looking for, there’s also an element beyond that I feel is important to mention – we imbue our work with the true meaning of philanthropy, “love of humanity” in all that we do. There’s a science behind philanthropy, but there’s also art and emotion. harp-weaver combines the two in order to connect and make an impact.



Interested in learning more? Check out our website.


In addition, we encourage you to Check out the Talent for Giving toolkit and guide from the Center for High Impact Philanthropy to learn more about philanthropic advising and “building the team to help you do good.”

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