Bruce DeBoskey, principal of the DeBoskey Group and a BJN contributor, joined Boulder Jewish News’ supporter group this week. BJN caught up with Bruce just before Passover for one of our “4 Questions” interviews about creating a consultancy around philanthropy.
1. You were a Colorado lawyer for 25 years and then became the Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League. Why did you then become a Philanthropic Advisor? How did that prior experience prepare you for this work?
As ADL’s Regional Director I had the challenge of raising money to support our work. Although individuals, families, businesses and foundations made donations for different reasons, I learned they often were disorganized and not strategic about their philanthropy. As a trial lawyer I had learned about strategy, confidentiality and fiduciary duties. As a nonprofit executive, I learned about how the nonprofit sector works – and doesn’t work. As a Philanthropic Advisor, I use those experiences to help individuals, families, businesses and foundations organize, strategize and maximize the impact of their philanthropic investments.
2. Explain a typical engagement. What should a person, family, business or foundation expect?
The first step is to ascertain and understand the reasons why the client chooses to be philanthropic. Then, utilizing different methodologies, we determine which style of philanthropy (traditional, venture, transformational, etc.) the client is most comfortable with, and the causes or issues they wish to address. If it is a business, we ascertain whether employee engagement and volunteering is a part of the overall philanthropic initiative, who their customers are, and in what ways their business might impact, or be impacted by, social issues. Then, we develop a strategy to achieve the client’s goals, and metrics and other evaluation tools to help determine the impact of their approach. For businesses, we work to align their philanthropic goals with their other business objectives. We help clients view their philanthropy as a social investment…and help them achieve the return on that investment – for themselves and the people or causes they wish to help.
3. Is there a particularly Jewish perspective you bring to the work? Does that fly even with non-Jewish clients?
Although the teachings of Tikkun Olam (“to repair the world”), Tzedek Tzedek Tirdoff (“Justice, Justice shall you pursue”), and Tzedakah (“Charity”) are Jewish values that motivate and inspire me in my work, such values are universal and appeal to people of all faiths or none.
4. How do you know when things are really clicking -or not- with clients?
When successful people bring their business and other skills to bear upon their philanthropy, it is an entirely different experience that goes beyond the act of writing a check. When parents engage their children, young or grown, in meaningful conversations about money, philanthropy and legacy, families develop new bonds and discover shared values about their place in the world and their ability to make a difference together. When foundations focus on a mission and develop strategies to achieve it and tools to evaluate their efforts, their ability to have an impact soars. And when business leaders understand that the ultimate profitability and success of their business depends upon their participation in creating healthy, safe, educated, inclusive and life sustaining communities, everybody wins.
Thank you Bruce, for supporting the Boulder Jewish News.