Taught by Paul Brest and Mark Wolfson

The course will be structured around the perspective of a foundation or a high net worth individual who has decided to devote substantial resources to philanthropy and wishes to decide which philanthropic goals to pursue and how best to achieve them. Although there are no formal prerequisites for the course, we will assume that students have experience working at a foundation, nonprofit organization, impact investing fund, or similar organization, or have taken an introductory course in strategic philanthropy such as GSBGEN 381. (There is sufficient overlap with Paul Brest’s Autumn course, Measuring and Improving the Impact of Social Enterprises (GSBGEN 322), that students taking that course should not enroll in this one.)

We will explore selected topics including: the roles of the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors in society; whether giving to the poor is morally obligatory or discretionary; choosing philanthropic goals; fundamentals of nonprofit strategy; designing performance metrics and measuring philanthropic impact; the justifications for tax-subsidized philanthropy; barriers to the practice of strategic philanthropy; impact investing; alternative legal and organizational structures to carry out philanthropic programs, including donor-advised funds, direct giving, support organizations and foundations; and; whether foundations should be designed and run to exist in perpetuity or to spend down corpus over a finite lifetime.