Philanthropy Advising

Bridgespan helps philanthropists give smart: that is, achieve outstanding results, consistent with their values, by helping them define and measure success for the problems and people they care most about. We help them identify and pursue the most important initiatives and grantees that will create the changes they want to see in the world. We analyze the big ideas, and craft specific and adaptive strategies to achieve exceptional results over time.

We generally engage with donors and foundations as they are about to embark on or revise a significant philanthropic investment (also known as “big bets”) or collaboration. Bridgespan’s experience includes deep work with leading foundations, and advising hundreds of philanthropic leaders. Bridgespan has worked on both foundation-wide strategic issues (like governance, decision-making, and portfolio allocation) and initiative strategies (like education reform, community revitalization, and obesity). In addition, we have worked with a growing number of foundations who have asked us to provide business planning, leadership development, and other supports to a selection of their highest-potential nonprofit grantees.

Every engagement is highly customized, focusing on the unique challenges and opportunities of the philanthropists and their organizations. A primary aim of our work is not only achieving results, but also helping build the capacity of donors and executives to tackle this work in the future. We do this by framing their most important decisions: which values and beliefs will guide their philanthropy, what success looks like and what it will take to get there, how to collaborate effectively with grantees and others, and how to learn and get better results over time.