The Power of Big Bet Philanthropy


Philanthropist's Field Guide

The Power of Big Bet Philanthropy

Individuals with a clear philanthropic vision might prefer to concentrate their financial contributions, putting capital behind an organization working toward advancing a specific cause. Known as “big bet” philanthropy, this practice refers to making a gift of $10 million or more to a single nonprofit. Financial investments of this magnitude can be game changing for an organization, empowering them with the capital they need to scale their operations, establish new programming, and transform an issue or community. 

a glass jar full of coins with twinkle lights in the background

How does a philanthropist make a big bet?

More often than not, individual philanthropists will make “big bets” on organizations that they have supported previously. However, this is by no means a requirement, and trusted intermediaries like Co-ImpactBlue Meridian, and New Profit can connect you with shovel-ready funding opportunities. 

In either case, it makes sense to build a relationship with a nonprofit and its leaders before making an investment of this size. This will allow you to gauge whether their mission and programming align with your philanthropic goals. If there is a match, collaborate with the organization’s leadership team to outline the activities and intended impact that your big bet could have on both the organization and the larger ecosystem.

Who can be the recipient of a big bet?

Hospitals, museums, and educational institutions are common benefactors of big bets because they have the endowments and infrastructure to absorb significant charitable gifts. However, big-bet philanthropy has also been critical to mobilizing movements and scaling solutions within environmental and social justice organizations. 

How can I vet potential recipients of my big bet?

If you do not already have a strong relationship with the organization you plan to support, it makes sense to do your due diligence to ensure your collaboration will be a fruitful endeavor. Go beyond your network to source recommendations or referrals from well-regarded intermediaries that are deeply familiar with promising organizations, leaders, and interventions.

When is the best time to make a big bet?

While there is no specific timeline required to make a big bet, this approach is most often utilized by established philanthropists. Patrons of big bets often consider these gifts as part of their legacy work, so for that reason, they tend to come later in an individual’s giving journey.

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Published September 23, 2020