Susan Wolf Ditkoff

Senior Advisor

Susan Wolf Ditkoff is a senior advisor in The Bridgespan Group's Boston office. Since 2001, she has advised philanthropists and foundations seeking to get better results from their giving, and she has led planning and design teams with nonprofit leaders who are implementing large-scale social change initiatives with their beneficiaries.
In addition to advising clients, her authored publications include: “When Philanthropy Meets Advocacy” (Stanford Social Innovation Review, 2018); “Audacious Philanthropy” (Harvard Business Review 2017, Forbes India, and 15-casebook compendium); “Onward: Accelerating the Impact of Social Impact Education” (Skoll Foundation, Skoll Centre, and SSIR 2016); “Making Youth Employment Work” (U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation); “Why and How to Hire Young People without Diplomas” (HBR & The Conference Board 2015); “Five Ways to Move from Strategic to Adaptive Philanthropy” (SSIR 2014); “Giving That Gets Results” ( series editor 2013); “Why Philanthropists Are Spending Themselves Out Of Business” (Forbes 2013) & “Learning from the Sunset: Five lessons from foundations that spend down” (Philanthropy Roundtable Magazine 2013); “Philanthropy in the New Age of Government Austerity” (HUD User 2012); “When You’ve Made Enough to Make a Difference” (HBR 2011); and “Galvanizing Philanthropy” (HBR 2009). Selected radio interviews and podcasts include: Business of Giving Podcast: Philanthropy and Advocacy in a Democracy; TinySpark Podcast: Successful Social Change Takes Patience; Bloomberg Radio: Audacious Philanthropy; WNYC Radio: Money Talking: Trends in Philanthropic Giving; and Drucker on the Dial: Better to Give with Adam Grant.
Her work has been published globally, particularly in India, and is regularly interviewed as an expert in effective philanthropy by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, the Chronicle of Philanthropy, and numerous charitable sector publications. She led a team to develop an award-winning website for individual philanthropists and initiated Bridgespan’s first philanthropy blog series and accompanying Twitter campaign.
Outside of Bridgespan, Susan has been an elected local official for ten years, most recently as chairperson of her town's school board. During her tenure, the District grew its student population by 40%, increased diversity of the leadership team, advanced important literacy and anti-bullying initiatives, and embarked on more than $500 million of school building projects, of which she is chairing more than $200m. She is on the strategy committee for Expeditionary Learning Education and 100Kin10, a national initiative to recruit STEM teachers, and is an Affiliate of Ariadne Labs. Susan was formerly a Vice President of the Harvard Business School Alumni Board of Directors; Co-President, HBS Social Enterprise Alumni Association; Leadership Coach in the HBS Executive Education program; the Co-Founder of the HBS Social Venture Competition, and Visiting Lab Fellow, Edmund J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard. Before 2000 she helped launch a new subsidiary of Merck & Co. which doubled in its first three years to more than $1 billion in revenue; was a financial analyst and nonprofit fellow with McKinsey & Co.; and a bilingual public school classroom paraprofessional. She graduated from Yale (BA; thesis on bilingual education) and Harvard (MBA).