Advancing Philanthropy

Bridgespan's Advancing Philanthropy content is contained at and is organized around six essential questions that help donors unlock the full potential of their philanthropy.

The site shares effective philanthropic practices, including donor stories, practical how-to guides, and other decision-making tools. Please visit the site to explore more of our philanthropy content.


High Stakes Donor Collaborations

Pioneering foundations and philanthropists have pooled their talent and resources to help solve social sector problems too big for any one to tackle alone. What can other donors learn from these efforts? Find out in this Stanford Social Innovation Review article by Bridgespan authors Willa Seldon, Tom Tierney, and Gihani Fernando.

Conversations with Remarkable Givers

This collection of video interviews shares candid one-on-one conversations with 64 philanthropists and foundation leaders. Melinda Gates, Ted Turner, Pierre Omidyar, Michael J. Fox, and others discuss what makes their philanthropy effective, what's worked and what hasn't, and what they've learned along the way.

Donor Decision Tool: How to Research a Nonprofit

What is the best way to research a nonprofit organization you’re considering funding? The answer to that question depends on a number of factors, including how much you already know about the organization, the size of your grant, and its importance to the nonprofit. You will want to balance the extent of your effort with respect for the busy leaders of these organizations. By answering a few questions, our tool will recommend a tailored research plan.

Starting Your Philanthropic Journey

Understanding why you want to give will help define how you want to give, including how personally engaged you want to be in your philanthropy.

The Donor-Grantee Trap (PDF)

How ineffective collaboration undermines philanthropic results for society, and what can be done about it.

Featured Content

Six Pathways to Enduring Results: Lessons from Spend-Down Foundations

A growing number of foundations and philanthropists have elected to give away their money by a fixed date rather than establish perpetual foundations. The paths they’ve chosen to take, and how they chose them, provide useful tips for other philanthropists on how they can align their giving with a path that best accommodates their goals.

How Philanthropy Can Help Communities Advance Climate
Change Adaptation

Hurricane Sandy elevated nascent interest in climate adaptation and underscored the need for communities to plan for and invest in infrastructure projects that consider the impacts of climate change. It is within this context that philanthropy has a powerful role to play, by helping catalyze and nurture adaptation projects.

Philanthropy in the New Age of Government Austerity

A new age of austerity, gripping governments at all levels, is forcing the philanthropic community to reassess how it works on behalf of people in need.

Galvanizing Philanthropy

Creating lasting environmental, social, and economic change requires discipline—a concept with which many foundations, grant makers, and committed wealthy individuals have traditionally struggled. To change, foundations and their counterparts should embark on a philanthropic strategic process we think of as getting clear, getting real, and getting better.

When You’ve Made Enough to Make a Difference

Even the richest individuals and largest foundations don’t have enough money to end poverty, reverse climate change, or cure cancer. To achieve breakthrough changes, donors need a multiplier effect—an approach that delivers many dollars' worth of impact for each dollar invested. In short, they need to develop an investment model.

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