Frequently asked questions
How is Saint Partners is different from most other philanthropy services companies?
There are three things that set us apart:
Our focus on impact + the giver. We help you not only make an impact on your chosen cause, but also help you do it in such a way that brings you deep fulfillment. This approach has become a driving force for our work and the projects we seek. We know that our clients are poised to make extraordinary philanthropy their capstone accomplishment and living legacy, after having achieved extraordinary success.
Our level experience. With experience in designing, managing, and growing over $2B in cutting-edge philanthropic projects, our team has a wealth of experience in both planning and execution. We are equipped to handle projects across various stages in your philanthropic journey, whether you are starting out, or revamping an existing foundation. Whether you’ve made a few donations here and there, or you’ve been systematically giving as a family for generation, we can help take your philanthropy to the next level.
Our superior connectivity
We are proud of the depth and breadth of experience of our team, who have directly worked with many leading figures in both the for-profit and not-for-profit realms, including scientific research, medicine, K-12 education, higher education, environmental causes, animal welfare, major gifts, arts establishments, celebrity philanthropy, media campaigns, and many other areas. We have personally brokered for and served as bridge builders between leaders of social movements, the media, and world-leading institutions to make visions come to life on the national and world stage.
What is your business model?
We are essentially a multi-family office focused specifically on managing, representing, and advising high net worth individuals and public figures on their philanthropy.
We work on a flat-fee retainer-based model, the amount depending on the complexity of the project.
Where are you located, and how do you work with clients outside of your area?
We have hubs in New York, Los Angeles and Singapore that serve clients worldwide. We rely heavily on the phone and e-mail, but also believe in the power of face-to-face interaction and are available to visit you at your offices.
What is the minimum foundation endowment that you work with?
There is no minimum, and you don’t necessarily need to have a foundation to work with us. Money is only one part of philanthropic success, and often not the most important part. When we look at projects, we sometimes see great results with small amounts of money, and more commonly, only modest results when great amounts are spent.
Why do I need these services?
Wherever you are in your journey, whether you are just starting out or have had a foundation for many generations, we have ways to help. Some of the more common issues we have seen across the spectrum are:
For the novice/ beginner:
“I’m not sure what to do.” Do you feel that you have a philanthropic calling, but simply do not know what exactly you want to do? Have you been giving to a wide range of causes and receiving a relentless stream of fundraising requests? Are these causes truly aligned with your deepest values, hopes and dreams?
(2) “I am not ready.” Do you have a vision for your philanthropy, but aren't quite sure how to execute it? Are you still intricately involved in running your businesses, and have no bandwidth to do as Bill Gates has (i.e. leave Microsoft and focus completely on charity work)? We help you plan your philanthropy, share do's and don'ts, and show you how you can be more effective while doing something meaningful to you.
(3) "I don’t know whom to trust.”Do you have a bold and ambitious idea, but have difficulty finding the right people who can execute with skill and dedication? Do you wonder how to sort through the jungle of civil society and find truly credible, trustworthy, experienced partners who are not going to take you for a ride? We can help you connect to the right people, and in some cases act as your executive search firm to find the best talent.
For the experienced philanthropist:
(1) “My efforts are not recognized.” A common misconception is that the desire for visibility is simply born out of ego. But the reality is that the visibility of a philanthropic project can only enhance its potential for impact by fostering accountability towards achieving the desired objectives, and attracting collaborators and supporters. Who wants to work with a group or a person they have never heard of?
(2) “My family does not agree with me.” As your family’s wealth is passed from one generation to the next, are you prepared to address the hard questions that arise? How will the new generation ensure that the your original intent is not lost? Do your children even have an interest in family philanthropy? If you have inherited or are inheriting a foundation, what can you do to uphold your family's legacy?
“I am drained.” Your initial impulse to give may have been motivated by pure intentions – but surely at some point you have become jaded by giving. Beneficiaries are sometimes ungrateful and have a sense of entitlement; you feel no affinity with the causes you support; solicitations do not stop; and you find no of opportunities that allow you to directly experience the positive outcomes of your generosity.
“The money is not going as far as it should.” The nonprofit sector is filled with waste and duplication. Think of any cause and chances are that multiple organizations with roughly the same mission and approach are tackling it, wasting a lot of effort, time, and money in the process. Have you been giving generously, but nevertheless feel that your efforts are not producing the impact that you wish to see?
"Philanthropy services cost too much." This is generally true! In our opinion, a lot of philanthropy costs too much because things are not set up to be efficient and effective to start with. While our services may seem expensive to the uninitiated, those who work with us know they cannot pursue daring goals if the obsession is to simply keep overhead low. We do things right, and make your philanthropy go further, faster, and more efficiently, and this saves real money, well in excess of our professional fees.
I want to hire Saint Partners. How do I get started?
Every engagement always begins the same way: we listen. Next, we discuss the range of possibilities, and how your vision can become real. We’ll challenge your ideas and assumptions so that you’ll be ready for the tough job of making great things happen in practice. Once you are ready to take action, we are on call to serve; with you in control, and the key decision maker at important junctures, we act as your representatives, negotiators, high-level project managers, and agents to bring your philanthropic aspirations to life. While working with you, we wear multiple hats: strategy consultants, family counselors, brutally honest coaches, personal branding advisors, negotiators, connectors, event planners, and all-around advocates for you and your cause.
Do we really need a Blueprint?
Do we really need a Blueprint?
Our Blueprint service is like having an expert map. It shows you what others are doing, what has worked, what hasn’t, and why. It identifies leaders in research, practice, and the media who are in the best positions to advance the cause that you care about. Often, it can show how even a modest amount of funding can go a long way. Even if you are an expert in your area, the Blueprint to give you new perspectives. In addition to our expertise in preparing these materials, we offer independent, third-party insights, and may raise questions that you might not have thought to ask. Finally, you could easily spend 500 hours or more on such deep outreach and planning yourself, even if it is something you have done before. While some direct contact work is important in terms of getting a good feel for an area, with the Blueprint service we can serve as trusted screeners, saving time you could be spending focused on your business and on your family.
If you are subscribing to our “Blueprint” service, you can typically expect the following:
Go over all major elements of the blueprint process.
We will conduct additional research, as needed, which will be used to draft an interim report.
We will allow you to review this report to ensure we agree on the high-level vision, and to hear of any additional areas or details you would like to get our special attention.
Prepare the blueprint document.
When needed, expert peer-review of parts of the blueprint document to increase the sharpness and validity of these parts, and to establish relationships with key stakeholders in that focus area.
Draft the Executive Summary and review it with you to ensure that we agree on the next level of detail.
Submit “Blueprint” in advance of meeting to discuss.
How long does a typical engagement take?
Because success can only be met with long-term commitment on both sides, we work on a minimum 6 month retainer basis regardless of the specific services chosen.
The next steps depend on the scope and complexity of the project. We come from business backgrounds and have observed that in general, we move faster than what is typical for the non-profit sector. We also work carefully. In some cases, we may suggest pilot projects to test and refine approaches and ideas, rather than launching directly into full-scale effort; in others, we may suggest multi-pronged strategies that work with different kinds of agents, thus creating and linking research, awareness, engagement, and action.
How does your process work?
Every situation is unique. However, some fairly common steps that you can expect include:
We help you with the what, when, how and why of your philanthropy. In an environment marked by trust, we encourage you to be honest about your deepest motivations and aspirations. We meet your family members, close friends and trusted associates. Only when we know that we have an intricate understanding of who you are and what you really want do we proceed to the next step: how do we make it happen?
We help you create, implement, and review your philanthropic projects. In every step we help you make more effective use of your resources, mitigate risks, and find more opportunities to directly experience the results of your good work. We lead you beyond feel-good philanthropy, but we also make sure you feel good about what you are doing.
We help bring visibility to your philanthropic efforts and help you leverage the power of media for social change. We do this through designing your brand identity, special events, charity fundraisers and galas, competitions and prizes; and identifying partnerships, champions and ambassadors.
We don’t think that branding and visibility for their own sake are useful. But without amplification, philanthropy cannot be sustainable nor scalable.
I already have a philanthropic foundation with staff. What can you do that they are not already doing?
If everything is working perfectly, you probably don’t need us unless you are trying to scale up or move into new areas (although if things are perfect, we would love to learn more about your foundation). However, you might not know what you’re missing.
We invite you to experience our "second look" service. This service enables you to tap into our extensive experience,, without high commitment or risk. To date, our partners have reviewed thousands of philanthropic projects and have helped to structure or restructure hundreds customized efforts. We find that some areas are consistantly weak. For example, is the media playing an appropriate role in showcasing your success stories via information channels to key decision makers and the larger public? How are others, including other funders, being involved in advancing your cause? Think of our “second look” service as a kind of private and discreet philanthropic "health check-up" by one of the most experienced and creative teams in the world.
Your team seems small for the scale of the work that I am seeking to do. Will this be a problem?
Not at all. Working with Saint Partners provides a way to have big impact without having to employ a large foundation staff. We have kept our core team small intentionally so that our partners can personally give each client’s vision the personalized attention it deserves. We have found, after years of experience, that assigning work to whatever internal staff are in place is not as effective as creating customized, best-fitting outsourced teams of changemakers that are appropriate for your level of ambition. We are experts in the identification, recruitment, and relationship management of professionals, organizations, and institutions that have track records of delivering extraordinary results. We take pride in our nimbleness, efficiency, and ability to get results, without creating long-term dependencies or monolithic administrative structures, which often have a way of taking a life of their own.
How can I learn more about your results?
Our webpage has a series of
case studies where you can learn more about the different ways that we have helped our clients, as well as more extensive relevant experience of our
I have been supporting a cause dear to me. Can you help us raise more money?
We believe that funding from other sources is a key marker of potential for wider success. We offer expert guidance to help you source and select the right kinds of fundraisers for your cause and mission. Additionally, if you are working with large institutions, NGOs, or other organizations, we believe that you should always seek to have some level of financial or in-kind support from the partner institution. As part of our engagement with you, we will look for the best ways to negotiate such support. This aspect alone justifies working with us. Given our experience, it is not uncommon to increase the value of a large benefaction by 10% to 50% of the base value of the benefaction by negotiating external support.
DEVELOPMENT PARTNERS is Saint Partners' fundraising advisory service. This exclusive service is born out of our keen understanding of major benefactors and other givers, and our distinctive experience of being on the donor's side of the donor-fundraiser equation. We have a keen understanding of what makes people fund certain causes over others, the great responsibilities that come with wealth, and the many factors that motivate giving. With the same dedication and rigor that has garnered us a notable clientele, we can help your cause gain more support.
Ideal clients are:
NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS. We help organizations with a philanthropic intent attract supporters/investors and have an even greater positive and transformative effect on society.
CELEBRITY FOUNDATIONS. We help organizations backed by notable personalities in film, music, sports, business, the arts, and royalty leverage their social capital for social good through events, publicity campaigns and other platforms.
We are a charitable organization that needs funding. Can you connect us to your clients?
We are unfortunately not in a position where we can freely connect our clients to specific charities, however deserving. This is unless our client specifically asks to be introduced.
For charities seeking funding, we recommend a range of resources on effective fundraising. A favorite is the book "The Generosity Network."
How do you price your services?
We work on the basis of a fixed monthly retainer that covers the basic costs of serving you, plus fixed fees for additional specialized services, which will always be cleared by you in advance. Our services fit broadly into three categories:
Amplification. The fees for services are determined by:
The type of service offered.
The complexity, scope, and goals of the project.
The quality of your existing materials, and current assets, including your current positioning and connectivity.
Are you worth the added cost?
We believe so, because:
We Succeed: We are well aware that there are many consultants offering their services. Some of these consultants do fine work, but their typical client is typically someone interested in a simple giving strategy, such as how to make grants to local and national non-profits. Our services are geared those who care very deeply about their giving, and looking to make a substantial change in an area of special interest. As such, we consider and advise on activities that go far beyond check-writing, such as engaging leading figures in debate, creating awards and prizes for exceptional leadership, and sponsorship of projects that align different communities towards a common solution. Effective philanthropy is not easy; we give our clients the edge that their unique vision deserves.
Your Time is Valuable and Scarce: Let’s consider a typical service: “the Blueprint”. In our experience, it would take most entrepreneurs 2000 hours or more to create comparable materials. If you choose to do it yourself, you are implicitly assigning a value of $50/ per hour of your time. Considering this, our clients can often create far more value per hour by focusing on their core business interests or family time.
Professional Experience Adds Value: We can complete the same engagement in about 400 hours. This implies a rate of $250 per hour. You’re probably paying your CPA at least $300 per hour, your attorney at least $500 per hour, and your name-brand management consultant at least $750 per hour. Yet these are all essentially commodities: a good attorney is relatively easy to find, but a good philanthropy advisor with a track record of high impact is relatively rare. Our partners have experience with several billion dollars of benefactions. We have learned many lessons along the way, and clever ways to solve many of the challenges that routinely come up and stump even those in professional foundations. Let our experience be yours. We believe that our specialized skills are a bargain compared to the many other professional services you employ.
Note that many neophytes focus attention of maximally reducing expenses so that that the largest possible benefaction flows directly to the beneficiary. While we greatly admire the ideal of low overhead and administrative costs, we find that such a view is far too simplistic, an can sometimes end up being the most expensive of all. Many inexperienced philanthropists think that it is money alone that solves problems. Often, this is not the case. The core challenge is how to create the largest impact and most profound change considering a given combination of knowledge, time, money, and talent that one has available. We help you to think about and solve this complex challenge, iteratively.