What We Do

About Our Work

Our multi-disciplinary team engages in the following activities:

Independent analysis on a broad range of causes (e.g., U.S. education, global public health priorities like malaria or child survival rates, effective disaster response), as well as challenges faced by all those seeking social impact (e.g., How to define social impact goals, measure and manage progress, estimate the social return on investments).

Educational programs, including undergraduate and graduate coursework, internships, workshops for social impact leaders, webinars, conference presentations, private donor forums, and our executive education programs for funders, wealth managers, and practitioners.

Custom engagements to support specific efforts to achieve greater social impact. Recent examples:

  • Working closely with a family’s wealth advisor, we identified the housing security issues that remained in their community after a natural disaster and how both philanthropy and impact investing capital could help.
  • Working with a foundation’s longstanding consultant, we designed that family’s first retreat to engage multiple generations of family stakeholders in a common area of interest: education, with an ultimate focus on early childhood.
  • Conducted a sector scan and analyses for an individual high net worth donor’s exploration of how cleaner cookstoves might lead to positive social impacts in both health and environmental impacts.

Members of the press may contact Jacquie Posey, University Communications, Kelly Andrews, 215-573-9656, kellyja@upenn.edu.

What Are We Working on Now

The following is a select list of current projects. For more on how we select projects, please see our FAQ

How Can Philanthropy Strengthen Democracy?

Multiple surveys over the past decade have revealed a trend of declining confidence in political institutions among US voters. In 2016, the US slipped from a “full democracy” to a “flawed democracy,” according to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index, a downgrade that has been years in the making. In 2018, in partnership with the Democracy Fund, CHIP will take a multidisciplinary approach to developing an organizing framework for donors to make impactful funding decisions in this area.

Mental Health and Addiction

Behavioral health problems, which include both mental health and substance use disorders, are a leading cause of disability and poor health worldwide. Given the scale of these problems, the question for donors is, “How can I help?” Getting good answers to that question is complicated by interrelated issues of stigma, a narrow focus on treatment services, and misinformation and limited use of evidence-based solutions. CHIP is developing a toolkit to help funders navigate the field of behavioral health and maximize their impact in support of these issues.

Talent for Giving

CHIP is partnering with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop actionable guidance on ways high net-worth donors can best staff their philanthropic organizations. The various staffing approaches that currently exist suggest that no single model meets the needs of all funders. We will identify current staffing model options and analyze their relative strengths and limitations. Our guidance will also include key principles, decision points, and illustrative case examples to help funders select and adapt the most appropriate model for their needs and social impact goals.

2020 High Impact Giving Guide

CHIP is working on our flagship annual guidance, the High Impact Giving Guide, designed to help donors make a bigger difference with their philanthropic gifts. The 2019 Guide can be accessed here, and our 2020 Guide will be released in November 2019.