Although philanthropic institutions work in a wide variety of areas, there are common philosophical and structural issues that recur across organizations, fields, and time. Philanthropic practice and strategies have evolved as contexts have changed, yet have also retained some enduring characteristics. From operating programs to grant making, from local to international funding, and from traditional grant support to innovative financial mechanisms, many issues are shared by all who engage in philanthropic work.

Individual Giving

Arts & Culture

The Met Cloisters: An Unlikely Pair Makes a Home for Medieval Art in New York City

Does philanthropy always require a perfect partnership to create something great? Peering behind the facade of The Met Cloisters museum reveals that the answer is sometimes “no.”

Arts & Culture

Rebuilding a Cathedral: The Media, American Money, and French Heritage

Stepping in to save French monuments without stepping on French pride.

Medicine & Public Health

The “Insulin Gift”

In 1923, a wealthy philanthropist’s funding helped make life-saving treatment for diabetes available to patients and doctors.

Environment

John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Creates a National Park

Who defines the public good? The showdown caused when a wealthy philanthropist bought land and tried to give it to the American people.

Arts & Culture

Philanthropy Helps Save the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

More than 700 major organizations and countless smaller individual donors helped restore a symbol of history and culture.

Field-Building

Arts & Culture

American Choreographers: Funding the Creative Process

How grant makers and grantees cooperated to craft a unique program in dance.

Medicine & Public Health

Public Health: How the Fight Against Hookworm Helped Build a System

A hundred years ago, hookworm disease was an epidemic across the US South. Northern philanthropy tried to help.

Issues in Philanthropy

The Fairy Godmothers of Women’s Studies

Moving scholarship by and about women from margin to center.

Issues in Philanthropy

How Philanthropy Helped History Go Public

What began as an attempt to find more job opportunities for historians went further and launched a new field.

Medicine & Public Health

Funding a Sexual Revolution: The Kinsey Reports

The inside story of the study that first questioned binary sexuality and spurred outcry and controversy.

Engaging the Private Sector

Issues in Philanthropy

“Investment Philanthropy” Investing for Social Good, a Century Ago

An early twentieth-century foundation tried using its endowment to support for-profit projects that also would achieve a social goal.

Race & Social Justice

Photo Essay: Supporting Minority Enterprise in the late 1960s

In 1968, the Ford Foundation began to make social investments using a new tool borrowed from the for-profit world, the Program-Related Investment.

Issues in Philanthropy

Supporting Economic Justice? Ford’s 1968 PRI Experiment

How the largest US foundation began supporting market-based projects in the late 1960s.

Issues in Philanthropy

The Birth of the Modern MBA

Why would an American foundation transform the field of business education?