July 17, 2023
Transforming Philanthropy Step by Step

It’s difficult, and somewhat unfair, to generalize about foundation philanthropy. If I have learned anything after two decades of working with foundations, it’s that generalizations quickly find their contradictions. There are great differences among foundations in motivation, strategies and governance. That said, there is reason to focus on one big generalization right now. It’s about […]

June 19, 2023
Opening the Curtains in Philanthropy

Do we need to open the curtains in the house of philanthropy? Many would say yes. But easier said than done. What does that look like? Who decides? And how far to go? WINGS, the global network of philanthropy associations, offers some answers, or at least some ways of getting to answers, with a new […]

April 30, 2023
Be Philanthropy: A View from Canada

More than a thousand people gathered in Brussels in the last week of April to talk about philanthropy – striking evidence of a pent-up demand for conversation and learning about the role of philanthropy today. The convenor of the sold-out gathering BePhilanthropy was itself a major philanthropic player, the King Baudouin Foundation, Belgium’s most significant […]

March 19, 2023
Changing Philanthropy from the Inside

Since 2020, there has been no hotter topic in institutional philanthropy than the need for change to the traditional or standard model of grantmaking.  Across the spectrum, from those who focus on equity and power shifting to those simply interested in greater impact, we hear talk about transforming practices and culture within foundations. Much talk […]

January 12, 2023
Hopes, Fears and A Wild Guess for 2023

It’s January again, time for forward looks (and a backward glance or two). In this post, I do some of both. In a similar post at the beginning of 2022, I noted that others looking at the coming year were cautiously avoiding predictions, given the uncertainties in our world. That uncertainty dominated 2022. Perhaps 2023 […]

December 13, 2022
From Charity To Change: A Foundation Story

This blog was posted initially on the site of the Center for Effective Philanthropy. Copies of my book can be ordered from McGill Queens University Press What’s the story on foundations? A simple question, with surprisingly many answers. A story is the way we interpret the meaning of actions and events. We tell stories about […]

November 14, 2022
From Charity To Change: A Reflection

This is a more personal post than usual. It’s about Canadian foundation philanthropy, as may of my posts are. But it is also sharing some of my personal reflections as I look forward to the publication at the end of November of my book From Charity To Change:  Inside The World of Canadian Foundations. Why did I […]

October 7, 2022
Changing Foundation Philanthropy in Canada and Europe

Why do foundations matter? I have spent decades thinking about this question in a Canadian context. To try to answer it, I wrote a book about the work of Canadian foundations and their impact today, called From Charity To Change (MQUP, 2022). I interviewed over 30 foundation leaders for their insights about the work they […]

September 28, 2022
Long-Life Philanthropy in a World on Fire

We are living in urgent times. Needs and uncertainties multiply in the context of energy and food insecurity, inflation, war, and attacks on democracy. The expectations and pressures on funders understandably continue to grow in the face of this urgency. The question of the value of the endowed foundation model must be posed again. When […]