December 14, 2022

Opportunity Outlines Guide Donors to Their Giving Goals

Author Joan Allmaras, Philanthropic Solutions Specialist

NPT’s Philanthropic Solutions Group can help donors develop a philanthropic strategy, zero in on focus areas and equip them with tools and analysis to maximize their philanthropic impact.

One of the most effective ways to explore a donor’s areas of interest is through our customizable Opportunity Outline. We’ve assembled a short case study below to illustrate the process of how NPT works with donors and advisors to create actionable research.

The Ask

A donor, who was new to philanthropy, and her financial advisor approached NPT for help getting started with giving—specifically with identifying potential grantee organizations to support.

NPT’s Philanthropic Consulting experts facilitated a call to learn more about the donor’s giving interests along with her motivations for giving, issues that prompted a sense of urgency for her and geographies and populations she might prefer to support.

Through this consultation, the donor articulated a desire to support programs that foster a love of reading and writing. She wanted to focus on young students from racially diverse backgrounds in two large U.S. cities she knew well. She was less interested in school-based programs, citing the potential complexity of navigating public school curricula.

The Offering

The donor and NPT’s team agreed that an Opportunity Outline would be a valuable resource. NPT’s customized Opportunity Outlines offer donors an overview of an issue along with a researched list of potential grantees that align with the donor’s giving criteria. In this case, NPT’s team and the donor agreed upon profiling five organizations.

The Process

NPT’s team conducted desk research to identify the broadest range of nonprofit organizations fitting the donor’s criteria. The initial scan yielded nearly 200 organizations. The team similarly researched and interviewed funders in the literacy field—regardless of geography—seeking innovative grants and leading practitioners who could offer unique insights and knowledge of trends in the literacy field.

The Challenge

Following the preliminary round of desk research and review of funders, the team found that many organizations were outside the scope of the donor’s criteria. Many projects were school-based. Some were national in scope. There was also something intangible missing: an emphasis on nurturing a love of reading and writing. NPT’s team pivoted to refine the search criteria to focus less on literacy—a standard skill assessed in school curricula—and instead shifted to explore after-school literary arts programs.

The Result

The shift in focus yielded a strong list of nonprofit organizations. Several programs emphasized not only reading and writing skills but also a focus on confidence-building. Ultimately, NPT’s team identified six organizations that aligned with the donor’s criteria and reached out to each one to learn more about programming and impact.

The donor received the Opportunity Outline that included an overview of the literacy and literary arts fields, where philanthropy can play a role, brief narrative summaries of six organizations to consider for her grantmaking and a heat map detailing how each organization aligned with her criteria. The document also included detailed methodology as well as contact information for each of the six organizations.

The Outcome

Following the delivery of the Opportunity Outline, NPT’s team scheduled a meeting to review it with the donor and her financial advisor. The donor noted that the profiled organizations were ones she would not have discovered on her own and was excited to begin her grantmaking journey with grants to two of the organizations.

For donors interested in Opportunity Outlines and other philanthropic guidance, NPT remains ready to help you help others. Contact our Philanthropic Solutions team at or (888) 878-7900.

About the Author

Joan Allmaras is a Philanthropic Solutions Specialist at NPT. She produces tailored, in-depth research on specific issues and geographic areas of interest to NPT’s donors. Ms. Allmaras holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of San Diego and a Master of Science in Nonprofit Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania.