Frequently Asked Questions

What does the Center do?

The Center for High Impact Philanthropy provides actionable and evidence-based guidance for individuals who want to ensure that their philanthropic funds make the greatest possible difference in the lives of others. We provide guidance to such impact-focused donors in a variety of ways: through public channels such as our blog, website, and social media that offer free access to much of our donor investment analysis; through donor intermediaries such as philanthropic advisors, wealth managers, and online platforms for giving; and directly through donor education programs and select consulting engagements.

What is High Impact Philanthropy?

High Impact Philanthropy means getting the “good” for your philanthropic “buck.” It is the process by which a philanthropist makes the biggest difference possible, given the amount of capital invested. Click here to learn more.

What makes you different?

Our position as a nonprofit located in a university setting allows us to access and bring together academic research, field experience, and informed opinion. We are able to present this integration of information in a way that can translate existing knowledge for the entire field of philanthropy. Instead of rating individual nonprofits or implementing strategies for donor clients, we focus our efforts on analyzing and highlighting successful models that donors should look for when seeking to make the biggest impact.

Our scope is global and not limited to any one social sector issue – for example, we have published work on global health, education, and the economic downturn. While our guidance has been helpful to a wide range of donors, our target audience is high net worth donors and their advisors, a segment that disproportionately influences the flow of philanthropic capital.

Do you do any work with impact investing?

Yes. Through a partnership with the Wharton Program for Social Impact (WPSI), the Center is conducting a landscape analysis of the impact investing sector, which includes understanding the major players in the industry, challenges facing its futures, and case examples of innovative impact investing initiatives. In addition to our work on impact investing, the Center and WPSI have embarked on a joint, multi-phase Social Impact Analytics Initiative that seeks to understand the landscape of social impact metrics and how to move it beyond its current state of fragmentation.

What is the Center’s relationship with Penn?

The Center is housed in Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2). The Center does not raise money for Penn or its programs, nor is its focus in any way limited to the University of Pennsylvania, its faculty, or alumni. However, because of this relationship with Penn, the Center has access to Penn’s invaluable resources such as libraries, world-renowned professors conducting cutting edge academic research, and smart and passionate students who work with us as research assistants.

How do you know that the Center is having an impact?

Ultimately, the impact that the Center seeks to achieve is to have philanthropic capital flow towards where it can achieve the most social good. In order to ensure that we are having an impact, we rely on indicators that show how our work is reaching and engaging with our target audiences. Our work is frequently cited and shared by sector leaders, philanthropic intermediaries (Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, Foundation Center, Aspen Institute, etc) and the mainstream press (MSNBC, Wall Street Journal, LA Times, Forbes, etc). We have been cited as a resource or partnered with a variety of international academic centers and consultancies, and mentioned in numerous books and other social impact publications. We have received significant qualitative feedback from our audience on how our work has changed their thinking and influenced their philanthropic decisions.

How can I directly support the Center’s work and its mission?

The Center for High Impact Philanthropy is not an endowed center. Additional financial support will allow us to expand our impact and further our mission of advancing the field of high impact philanthropy. Specific examples of how you can directly engage with our work include:

  1. Hosting a donor forum to disseminate knowledge on approaches for high impact philanthropy
  2. Supporting the launch of our analysis into new sectors
  3. Funding Penn undergraduate and graduate fellows to work at the Center on addressing social impact and philanthropy issues

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Center at 215.573.7266.

You can make a gift to the Center for High Impact Philanthropy online by visiting “Making History, The Campaign for Penn.” This secure payment site can be found here.