S3: Ep.86: Disruption starts with inside of the house expertise. A Disruptive Conversation with Aneil Gokhale.

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By Keita Demming. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.
Aneil Gokhale is the Director of Philanthropy at the Toronto Foundation. In this conversation, he and I cover a range of topics related to Philanthropy and the charitable sector. At the Foundation, he and his colleagues are trying to get people to think differently about how they give. In our conversation, we cover a range of inflexion points within the world of giving. Some of the things that stood out for me where:
In a blink of an eye, you can be 40 years old and your life has passed by but you may not have lived.
Aneil took a risk by leaving a very comfortable job at General Electric and ventured into the NonProfit world. As a Top Salesperson, he was able to transfer his skills into fundraising. What I love about this conversation is that Aneil full acknowledges that he had a safety blanket that allowed him to pivot. He responded to an internal conversation that said, the work you are doing is not currently aligned with your values. So he decided to make the pivot. With all his success he has managed to do so with grace and humility. Aneil worked his way into a sector that was more values aligned. Not everyone is brave enough or as he acknowledges, privileged enough to be in a position to make that kind of pivot. I respect this part of the Aneil’s journey and his venture into the unknown.
Build your network
Aneil and I have had many conversations about relationship building. I appreciate that he articulated the role networking has played in his career. For example, the thought he puts into thinking about how he introduces people is one to admire. He always asks the person if it is okay to connect them with whomever he would like to introduce. One of the lessons from this conversation is you can use networking to build trust in a sector where you may be an outsider.
The battle with Imposter Syndrome.
As a person of colour, I have often found myself in rooms asking myself what am I doing in here. The story I am often telling myself is, “when they find out more about me, they are going politely ask me to leave.” I love that Aneil was vulnerable enough to share similar moments where he did not feel like he belonged. In this episode, we both talk about how we struggled with imposter syndrome, admittedly he does not call it imposter syndrome, and how the secret is that everyone struggles with feeling either out of place or like they do not belong.
The importance of data
Toronto Foundation has really drilled this detail into my mind. 66% of all charitable donations go to 1% of organizations in Canada. The inequity of giving in Canada is enormous. In my mind, it falls into the camp of things we should deem unacceptable. What I appreciate about the way Aneil talks about the implications of this statistic is that we need to disrupt the patterns of giving, if we are going to influence the pattern of 66% of all donations going to 1% of organizations. This is a conversation we need to have more of in Canada and around the world. Additionally, one of the most innovative initiatives I have seen in the interest of creating a better world is Toronto Foundations Vital Signs Report. If you interested in a data-driven approach to philanthropy, see link here: https://torontofoundation.ca/vitalsigns/
Start with values and the cause
One of the major insights I took away from this conversation is to start thinking about the cause you would like to support versus the organization you would like to support. A mentor and friend of mine often say where there is a difference there is a need for distinction. We need to make a distinction between giving to a cause and giving to an organization. For me, this really revolves around asking people to think about their why. Why are you doing this in the first place? What would you like to be different as a result of your actions? The answer to these questions takes us to a very different place than thinking about what organization you would like to give to?
Disrupting Philanthropy
There is one section of our conversation that really stood out for me. Aneil talked about getting people to think differently about philanthropy on three fronts:
1. Getting organizations and people to think differently about operational funding and or core funding. Let organizations decide what is most important to them and where they can create the most impact.
2. Multi-year commitments so organizations are not caught in a race to find funding annually. Instead, they know they have money they can count on. Doing this will greatly improve organizations capacity to plan.
3. Valuing qualitative data just as much as quantitative data. Qualitative data or “thick data” as I like to call it, tells you so much more about an organization and its impact than numbers. Perhaps we can have a world that places more weight on qualitative data.
I hope you enjoy this podcast.
Links related to this episode:
1.Toronto Foundations Vital Signs report: https://torontofoundation.ca/vitalsigns/
2. Connect with Aneil on Twitter: https://twitter.com/a_goks
3. Learn more about Toronto Foundation: https://torontofoundation.ca/

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