High Impact Philanthropy Academy Curriculum

High Impact Philanthropy Academy Curriculum

2025 Program Schedule

Building on expertise in funder education since 2006, CHIP’s course delivery is based on best practices in executive and online education from the University of Pennsylvania. We leverage capabilities at our home in Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice, which offers world-class masters and doctoral programs, as well as continuing education in social impact strategy and leadership. Learn more about our faculty co-directors and instructors drawn from Penn faculty and philanthropic leadership.

Introductory Session: Zoom Classroom

Friday, May 13, 11 am – 2 pm ET

Foundations of High Impact Philanthropy: University of Pennsylvania

Tuesday, May 20, 12 pm – 5 pm ET
Wednesday, May 21, 8:30 am – 5 pm ET
Thursday, May 22, 8:30 am – 2 pm ET

Application to Real World Problems: Zoom Classroom

Friday, May 30, 11 am – 2 pm ET
Friday, June 6, 11 am – 2 pm ET
Friday, June 13, 11 am – 2 pm ET
Friday, June 20, 11 am – 2 pm ET


The High Impact Philanthropy Academy curriculum has been designed so that each topic builds upon the other. To convey the essential knowledge for each unit, instructors may use lectures, small-group exercises, class discussions, case studies, and guest speakers, in addition to videos and readings. Faculty ensure that each subject is responsive to the needs, interests, and expertise of the learners in each cohort.

Current Philanthropic Ecosystem

Our field is expanding with new affinity groups, advocacy groups, peer and external assessment organizations, regional and international associations, and older organizations rebranded for changing times. This session will unpack this increasingly crowded space to help you identify like-minded funders and the latest best practices around your own funding interests. This unit includes a session on the history of philanthropy prior to the 21st century to help you understand how practices, institutions, and laws developed as we are challenged to navigate and improve them to achieve more good.

Principles of High Impact Philanthropy

Who doesn’t want to generate ‘high impact’? But what does ‘high impact’ really mean? How can you, as a grantmaker or funder, incorporate the tenets of high impact philanthropy into your own philanthropy? This session builds on the Center’s 15+ years of applied research and work with individual, foundation, and corporate funders seeking to achieve greater social impact from their giving. We’ll dispel common myths about social impact, provide the Center’s working definition of high impact philanthropy, and explore how innovation and advocacy can fit into a high impact philanthropic portfolio. Then, through a series of cases and paired/small group exercises, participants will explore the core aspects of high impact philanthropy, applying these principles to their own grantmaking.

Philanthro-ethics: Ethics and Power in High Impact Philanthropy

Doing the right thing when you have power and money is harder than it seems. This session will help you to anticipate the ethical pitfalls that emerge in grantmaking and consider how following best practices and applying the “conscious use of self” can help you avoid them. This session will dive into case studies that explore conflict of interest, compensation, board composition, funder behavior, the implications behind the power of grantmakers, equity, and social justice.

The Law and High Impact Philanthropy

The American legal system sets significantly different rules for nonprofit organizations and private foundations. What are your grantees’ responsibilities, and what are yours? For private foundations, the penalties for violating the law can jeopardize the existence of your foundation and put board members at risk. Moreover, laws regarding NGO registration and accountability in other countries vary widely. Expenditure responsibility applies for domestic and international grantmaking but the 501(c) 3 designation can streamline the process, What does this mean for your philanthropy?

Evaluation and Assessment for High Impact Philanthropy

Program evaluation is a powerful tool for gaining insight into needs, improving programs, and demonstrating impact. But, in order to reap these benefits, you need to know what you want and how to get it from evaluation. What is the difference between monitoring and evaluation? Is establishing metrics the only way to get actionable data? When is the right time to start evaluating? This session of the course will equip you with a clear framework for making good decisions about how to use evaluation to support your philanthropic goals.

Aligning Capital for Social Impact

Values drive decisions, motivate philanthropic action, and inform which causes and nonprofits we choose to support. However, philanthropic gifts and grants are just one way we express our values. Increasingly, individuals and institutions are examining what they buy and how they invest to determine whether those other uses of money are consistent with their values and philanthropic goals. This session explores the reasons individuals and professional grantmakers seek greater alignment and how to increase alignment, no matter your starting point.

Philanthropic Culture, Structure, and Decision-making Practices

Because of the personal nature of much of philanthropy, there is particular value in proactively establishing policies regarding spending, compensation, conflict of interest, succession, board composition, decision-making, and more as early as possible. This course module will review policies that are recommended for good governance, as well as those that are legally mandated, and recommend processes for establishing them as painlessly and productively as possible.

Funding Strategies for High Impact Philanthropy

Every funder needs a strategy for their grantmaking activities. This session will start with a discussion of the considerations that go into establishing a foundation’s culture, mission, and focus. Then cover the classic grantmaking approaches and analysis and delve into alternative models of funding, including start-ups and innovation, multi-sector grants, advocacy and more. Also included are sessions on funder decision making and exit strategies to help funders establish constructive guidelines for ending grants responsibly under a variety of circumstances.

DEI in High Impact Philanthropy

Diversity, equity, and inclusion can be both intended social impact goals of your philanthropy, as well as instruments for achieving those goals. Drawing on our guidance on reducing structural inequality, this section looks at practices for including diverse voices and perspectives in setting priorities, developing solutions, leading organizations, and allocating resources to ensure that community and societal interests are served.

Putting Your Philanthropy into Action

Each course participant will be invited to present or propose a case challenge from their own work for class review and discussion. These can be presented anonymously if desired. These conversations will provide an opportunity for very personalized take-aways from the week’s curriculum.

More About Our Curriculum

Learn about Penn’s High Impact Philanthropy Academy from Center for High Impact Philanthropy faculty co-directors, Katherina ‘Kat’ Rosqueta and Richard Marker, below, or watch a full-length information session.