December 4, 2020

This season we’re examining the challenge facing the nonprofit workforce. In Episode 9, we explore the scarcity mind-set inside organized philanthropy itself as a major source of the deficit of investment in the nonprofit workforce. We sit down with Kris Putnam-Walkerly, a long-standing consultant to the funding community (and a past consultant to Fund the People), Kris’s new book, Delusional Altruism, forcefully articulates a litany of self-defeating funder behaviors and attitudes. Our conversation with Kris focuses on a major premise of the book: that funders try to “save money on all the wrong things,” including supporting their own staff, and the staff of grantee organizations. As Kris writes in the book, directly addressing funders: “As you know, your grantees are comprised of people. Don’t you want the most talented people doing their best work to help you fulfill your mission? Of course you do. Yet time and gain, funders withhold investment in grantee talent and infrastructure. You have a scarcity mindset, and it’s undermining your effectiveness.”

Show Notes: 

  • Kris shares about her journey in philanthropy and the nonprofit sector 
  • Why Kris wrote her book “Delusional Altruism” and an overview of the main themes
  • The biggest self-created challenge facing philanthropists 
  • Funders not investing in their own learning and development, undermining their own staff 
  • 8 things every philanthropist can do to change the world in uncertain times 

Links mentioned in the episode: 


Kris Putnam-Walkerly, MSW, is a global philanthropy advisor and President of Putnam Consulting Group. Her new book is, which we will discuss today , Delusional Altruism: Why Philanthropists Fail to Achieve Change  and What they Can Do To Transform Giving. For nearly 20 years, top global philanthropies have requested Kris’s help to transform their giving and catapult their impact. Her clients include the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Walton Family Foundation, Avery Dennison Foundation, among dozens of others. She is a frequent contributor in the publications of leading philanthropy associations, and provides expert commentary about philanthropy in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post,, and other media. She helped to create the National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers. She has served as a trustee of the Community Foundation of Lorain County (OH) and the Horizons Foundation. Prior to forming Putnam Consulting Group, she was a grantmaker at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and an evaluator at the Stanford University School of Medicine. She and her husband have five children and reside near Cleveland, Ohio. You can learn more at

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