Impact Philanthropy for the Rest of Us

Personalized philanthropy is a highly targeted gift design strategy you can use that’s based on tailoring the right gift for the right purpose for the right donor.

By Steven Meyers

Key Takeaways:

  • Project-based funding is an innovative approach to creating societal impact that puts donors in charge. It helps your clients align their charitable resources with their passions.
  • Personalized philanthropy is a gift design strategy based on tailoring the right gift for the right purpose for the right donor.
  • Advisors utilize assets under management in a novel way with special gift designs (“killer apps”) that keep investments growing while enabling philanthropic impact and recognition to begin immediately, during donors’ lifetimes, and scale up over time.
  • Project-based fundraising allows donors to support both projects of compelling interest and value, as well as deserving individual scientists at defining points in their careers.

Many professional advisors have clients with strong charitable intentions but who are not well-versed in connecting their wealth effectively to projects and causes they believe in. For some charities as well as donors, the path from intention to impact is sometimes difficult. However, the strong linkage between philanthropy and science is clear in the model of the Weizmann Institute of Science. This introduction to project-based fundraising makes “impact philanthropy” a reality for any and all of us, whether your client has $5 thousand, $5 million or $50 million.

Project-based fundraising at the Weizmann Institute of Science

Unlike many other organizations that seek primarily unrestricted general funds, the Weizmann Institute encourages restrictions so that donors can connect with what’s most compelling to them. Project-based fundraising, part of the American Committee for the Weizmann Institute’s Care Share Repair initiative, puts donors in charge, so savvy advisors like you can help them align their money with their passions.

With project-based fundraising, your generous clients can easily support one of 12 life-changing Weizmann research projects—ranging from cancer research to science education to robotics. These projects align closely with Weizmann priorities, so support is welcome at all levels. Using our online platform, clients may donate to a project that inspires them. Those who wish to take their social action to the next level may also create their own fundraising web page, and may invite friends and family to join their philanthropic efforts. In this way, project-based fundraising empowers philanthropists to leverage their personal capacity for good.

Projects and people—Each of the 12 fundraising projects pertains to the pioneering work of specific Weizmann scientists. These scientists are often at defining points in their careers while pursuing research that inspires particular donors. In addition to supporting the projects themselves, donors can support the people behind the science through professorial chairs and other gifts. The custom-tailored strategies of personalized philanthropy make it possible for advisors to help finance these gifts so that donors’ impact and recognition begins immediately. Under an advisor’s management, the donors’ impact can scale up over time, while their assets under management continue to grow. (For more details, see my series of CEG articles on personalized philanthropy.)

Below are the 12 Weizmann research projects your clients may choose to support, along with a closer look at one project, “Unlocking the Stars.”

Click the links on the right for more information.


Total Cancer Research

Defeating Skin Cancer

Creating a Safer World

Unlocking the Stars

Aging and the Brain

End Childhood Diseases

Energy Innovations

Protecting Our Water

Women in Science

Science for Children

Robotics for Humanity

Tech for the Future

Up for professorial chairs and more

Project-based fundraising is possible because team-based science is also a reality at organizations such as the Weizmann Institute. It’s part of the unique Weizmann culture of curiosity-driven, multidisciplinary collaborations and partnerships among scientists. For example, two scientists associated with the Unlocking the Stars project, Prof. Avishay Gal-Yam, Department of Particle Physics, and Prof. Oded Aharonson, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, are carrying out cutting-edge research.


The Weizmann Institute’s commitment to research spans generations of scientists and thrives on a bottom-up culture. In addition to supporting the overall projects, your clients can focus on the individual scientists at defining moments in their lives and careers. For instance, there are named funds at many levels to support the evergreen core needs of science, including principal investigators and professorial chairs, professional staff scientists who run the labs, young new scientists, master’s and doctoral students, postdoctoral fellows, and women in science associated with many project teams. Learn more about personalized giving opportunities here.

Once-in-a-lifetime philanthropic opportunities—every day

Naming a professorial chair or supporting a young scientist’s career development is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help shape the future of science. As philanthropic partners, donors are recognized and in the loop.

Start a project-based fundraiser—or join one

How can project-based fundraising make such a difference—even to the wealthiest clients? It’s the technology of leverage from the startup nation. Many donors want to expand their philanthropic support—but in very specific ways:

  • Donors want to shine a light on a cause that is so important to them that they are compelled to lead the effort personally. Now they can.
  • They know that their own capability is greater than most people’s, but they want to show others that it’s possible to amplify their gifts by getting together. Now they can.
  • They want to help others make a difference. They want to show that every gift truly can make a difference. Now they can.

To find out how to support the project in my example, Unlocking the Stars, click here. Or start here to support a project of compelling interest to you. Be assured we have a compelling need to match. That’s the essence of personalized philanthropy.

Better yet, if you are an advisor or a donor, let me know if you’d like to learn more about how project-based science can work along with your own personalized philanthropy. Your impact and recognition can begin right now, whether you have $5 thousand, $5 million or $50 million.

About the Author

Steven L. Meyers, Ph.D., is Vice President of the Center for Personalized Philanthropy at the American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science. Steve is a primary developer of personalized philanthropy, based on his mantra of “the right gift, for the right purpose, for the right donor.” Steve’s innovative donor-focused gift designs, especially a series of arrangements he calls “killer apps,” combine the full spectrum of current and future gifts so that donors can create a lasting legacy where impact and recognition are able to start up right away.