Merger Will Ramp Up the Push for Strategic Philanthropy

Philanthropy is not the same old, same old. The Greatest Generation is history; now comes the Giving Generation, armed with more bucks and more social consciousness than previous philanthropists. Estimates suggest the Giving Generation may have $40 trillion at its disposal, and a yearning to do more than just give it away. With a whole lotta cash, is it time to send them back for schoolin'?* 

Absolutely, says The Philanthropy Workshop (TPW). On Monday, June 9, the Institute for Philanthropy and The Philanthropy Workshop West will formally announce their union into TPW. (Though they actually eloped on March 1.)

The merger brings together two leading nonprofits in strategic philanthropy education and networking. The aim is to enable donors to achieve a higher impact with their giving, or, as TPW's new board chair Katherine Lorenz told me, "to help them get the biggest bang for their buck."

Lorenz knows Big Bang Theory. As president of the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation, she presides over a behemoth that has dispensed more than $400 million since it was founded in 1978. (And that's only a warm-up, given that the late George Mitchell, Lorenz's grandfather, left $750 million to the foundation upon his death in 2013.) Lorenz said TPW promotes different strategies for increasing the effectiveness of grantmaking, including making investments in for-profit social enterprises. "Strategic philanthropy is more proactive than responsive," says Lorenz. "It's more than just responding to a request."

"TPW's combined network of more than 300 philanthropists, all trained in strategic philanthropy by our organizations, is the largest of its kind and unique to the field of philanthropy," she explains.

But first you must spend some bucks to learn how to get the bang. Each workshop participant pays $30,000, plus travel expenses, for a three- or four-week tutorial. There are two "cohorts," or programs, one running from London to India to New York, and the second running from San Francisco to India to DC to San Francisco. The four-module session is broken into courses called A New Lens, Global Viewpoint, Advocacy and Public Policy, and Theory into Practice. If you take the three-module variation, the latter two courses are blended into one.

I asked TPW CEO Glen Galaich how the new organization was positioned on the fast-changing frontiers of philanthropy. “We are at the early edge of a new approach to philanthropy that challenges donors to utilize all aspects of their capital and portfolio to drive substantial impact and social change,” he told me.  “The impact investing movement of the past decade has transformed our view of effective philanthropy. Social investors cannot turn back from a strategy that includes for-profit social enterprises mixed into a portfolio of grants committed to policy change and leadership development. They will use their grant capital to seed social enterprises as they grow into sustainable for-profits that scale to provide products and services across vast constituencies."  

“The TPW merger positions us to provide a complete education in the strategies and tools necessary to lead in this new era of philanthropy,” Galaich concludes.

Among the heavyweights involved in leading TPW are the Rockefeller Foundation, HRH the Prince of Wales’s charities, the TOSA Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

* With apologies to Led Zeppelin