Excellence in Giving's Role as the “Friendly Skeptic”

How one client’s concerns led to a gift-changing review of a grant request

The following account is a true story based on a client’s experience with Excellence in Giving. The names have been changed to protect anonymity.

As the CEO of a successful company, Roland’s giving had grown to a significant level. Many national and local charities considered him a major contributor and solicited him regularly for grants. While he enjoyed generously supporting these organizations, Roland wanted confidence the funds he invested were creating significant impact.

One non-profit serving the urban poor particularly concerned him. Roland had known the founder and supported the organization since its inception, but he questioned the latest request for funding. The organization depended on him for support of the director and the general fund but now planned to expand its regional services and to create a national platform to promote its model -- an intriguing but ambitious goal. Roland had unanswered questions:

  1. Did the organization have a credible plan to achieve its desired growth?
  2. Was the leadership capable of managing such growth?
  3. What serious threats would face the management team?

Roland did not have the time to answer these important questions. He needed confidence additional funding he provided would accomplish the proposed outcomes.

After hearing about Excellence in Giving’s due diligence services for families seeking greater confidence in their giving decisions, Roland hired our team to complete an objective analysis.


Through proprietary assessment tools, data collection and analysis, and on-site interviews at the HQ, Excellence in Giving performed a comprehensive evaluation of the organization's strengths and weaknesses. For a fuller description of the evaluation process, review our 5 Levels of Due Diligence.


Evidence confirmed the organizations impact in their community; however, Excellence in Giving discovered several enterprise-threatening issues seriously calling into question the organization's ability to accomplish the proposed growth. 

First, the organization had volatile cash flow and inadequate financial reserves to meet operating expenses. Its major funding sources included government agencies notorious for delaying grant payments. Second, the executive director's time was overly consumed by managing grant requests and seeking additional funding. While he had delegated the management of day-to-day operations to other staff, the potential for burn-out and exhaustion was high. 

Excellence in Giving also discovered that no business plan existed to define the strategy, process for expansion, or the organizational structure needed to manage it.


After a full review, Excellence in Giving composed a written and bound Organizational Evaluation describing the organization's strengths and weaknesses, citing the specific “investor concerns.” Roland concurred with Excellence in Giving’s analysis and decided to withhold the proposed increase in funding until the organization's leadership addressed these important issues. 

The engagement with Excellence in Giving gave Roland a number of significant benefits:

  • Answers to the questions he did not have the time to investigate himself. 
  • Knowledge to make an informed decision. 
  • Ability to direct those funds to higher-impact organizations. 


Within 30 days of the report, several events validated the concerns Excellence in Giving detailed in its report. The executive director revealed in a phone conversation that:

  • Homeland Security had defaulted on a $50,000 grant.
  • $260,000 HUD grant was being cut in half.
  • A local medical center announced grant funding would be delayed 3-5 months.

Roland shared the report with the executive director, and he agreed with the cited concerns. The executive director appreciated the independent evaluation performed by Excellence in Giving. He indicated the report would help the board rally to meet the current crisis.


Like other Excellence in Giving clients, Roland is considered a generous person who desires to confidently put his resources to work in high-impact organizations. Using Excellence in Giving’s services allowed Roland to engage both his head and his heart in the giving decision. As a result, Roland is a better steward of his charitable resources and has more joy in his generosity.