Sampriti Ganguli, CEO of Arabella Advisors, Joins Denver Frederick on The Answer WNYM

Monday, February 24, 2020

Sampriti Ganguli, CEO of Arabella Advisors, Joins Denver Frederick on The Answer WNYM

Denver: Observers of the philanthropic ecosystem generally focus on the donors and the work of the recipient nonprofit organizations. But another vital force are the advisors, those intermediaries who help direct and guide significant dollars to causes and organizations that have the greatest impact. 

Now, some of these firms focus on a particular area such as impact investing, while others provide a whole suite of support services including governance, advocacy, and grants management. Arabella Advisors would be one of the full-service firms, and it’s a pleasure to have with us tonight their Chief Executive Officer, Sampriti Ganguli

Good evening, Sampriti, and welcome to The Business of Giving!

Sampriti: Good evening, Denver. It’s such a pleasure to be here. Thank you for having me. 

Denver: Eric Kessler, who, of course, founded Arabella, was on the show a number of years ago, and I recall him saying that he was trying to provide the widest range of services possible under one roof. There are a lot more services now than when he first had that thought. So just give us an idea, a sense, of what Arabella Advisors does. 

Sampriti: Denver, we essentially help philanthropists and investors take their idea and turn it into impact. So, essentially, we provide a full suite of services – everything from a strategy to implementation. We are the de facto grant maker for a lot of organizations, all the way through evaluation, asking the fundamental question of: Did my dollars make an impact? Did they make a difference? Arabella is one of the few places where you get all of those services under one roof. 

Denver: Maybe some listeners are asking: Well, how hard can it be to give money away? But, of course, I remember Warren Buffet saying that it was a lot easier for him to make his money than to give his money away. Why is it so hard to give away money to charity? 

Sampriti: It’s hard for three reasons. At a tactical level, there’s actually a lot of laws and regulations and compliance around giving, and not all donors essentially know that. I think it’s hard at a philosophical level, being able to separate out your heart – what compels you to give emotionally – from the rational decision to give is actually two very different muscles that individuals are flexing. And the third is:  it’s really hard to prioritize depending on one’s perspective. There are a lot of urgent problems that we need to solve, many of which have a very long-time horizon on the solution set, and so coming up with a prioritized list can actually be very challenging. 

I’ll add a nuance, which is, if you are a family, or you come from family wealth, there is the added dimension of family dynamics that are challenging to wrestle with, and that’s often why people turn to a philanthropic advisor to help guide them through that journey...

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