Impact-Driven Philanthropy

We are living in an important moment in time in our country’s history and in philanthropy. Wealth inequality is growing, while participation in giving and volunteering is declining. While those in the top echelons of wealth are giving more, critics are increasingly noting that much of that giving does not flow to those who need it most, and often supports strategies that work at the margins instead of seeking to transform the systems that sustain the deep inequities in our society.

Over the next 50 years, donors will contribute nearly $20 trillion to nonprofit organizations. This presents an enormous opportunity to address some of society’s greatest challenges. But while most donors indicate they want to make donations that are impactful, many lack access to high-quality resources or advice to guide their giving. If donors aren’t making informed, intentional investments, we squander opportunities to have a transformative impact.

As we enter the largest intergenerational transfer of wealth in our country’s history, we see an opening to support donors who want to give with impact by helping them to more easily access what the social sector has learned about best practices and what works.

That’s why we created the Impact-Driven Philanthropy Initiative—to help more donors give in ways that are more likely to make a difference.

  • Partner spotlight

    Giving Compass

    America has a long-standing tradition of generosity. As a nation, we contribute nearly $400 billion each year to issues and causes. Though we often think of large foundations when we think about philanthropy, more than 70 percent of giving in this country is directed by individuals writing checks or giving online. 

    Among individuals, most (85 percent) say they care about the impact of their gifts, but only 32 percent conduct research online, and only 9 percent  compare organizations. At the same time, our nation is anticipating the largest intergenerational transfer of wealth in our history, and expects up to $60 trillion will be passed along to heirs and some $20 trillion will be given to nonprofits over the next 50 years. 

    This generosity presents an enormous opportunity to make progress on pressing social issues and solve some of our greatest challenges, but if donors aren’t making informed, intentional investments, we will squander this chance. We see an exciting opportunity to direct more of these donations to make faster and deeper progress on issues and in communities. 


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    Partner spotlight

    Giving Compass

    America has a long-standing tradition of generosity. As a nation, we contribute nearly $400 billion each year to issues and causes. Though we often think of large foundations when we think about philanthropy, more than 70 percent of giving in this country is directed by individuals writing checks or giving online. 

    Among individuals, most (85 percent) say they care about the impact of their gifts, but only 32 percent conduct research online, and only 9 percent  compare organizations. At the same time, our nation is anticipating the largest intergenerational transfer of wealth in our history, and expects up to $60 trillion will be passed along to heirs and some $20 trillion will be given to nonprofits over the next 50 years. 

    This generosity presents an enormous opportunity to make progress on pressing social issues and solve some of our greatest challenges, but if donors aren’t making informed, intentional investments, we will squander this chance. We see an exciting opportunity to direct more of these donations to make faster and deeper progress on issues and in communities. 


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To give away money is an easy matter and in any man's power. But to decide to whom to give it... is neither in every man's power nor an easy matter." — Aristotle

– Aristotle

Illustrative Grants

Social Venture Partners International

Social Venture Partners International is a philanthropic network that cultivates effective philanthropists, strengthens nonprofits, and invests in collaborative solutions in order to tackle pressing social challenges.

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Faces of Giving

This grant supports Faces of Giving’s work to deepen the field’s understanding of high net worth donors of color, their needs, behaviors, and interests.

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The Philanthropy Workshop

The Philanthropy Workshop provides strategic philanthropy education to a growing network of philanthropists with the goal of inspiring individuals and families to give better.

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Stanford PACS | Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society

This grant supports Stanford PACS to develop and share knowledge to improve philanthropy, strengthen civil society, and effect social change.

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