Funder Executive Education

Join our FIRST online cohort: February 8 – 24, 2021

In response to the safety considerations and travel limitations of the COVID-19 pandemic, CHIP has adapted our flagship Funder Education program into a flexible online program beginning February 8, 2021. In the current environment, funders don’t have a minute or a penny to waste. CHIP’s Funder Education Program builds on over 13 years of helping funders and grantmakers worldwide achieve greater social impact.

Who Should Attend?

This program is for grantmakers, foundation trustees, foundation executive directors/CEOs and other philanthropic leaders who are eager to create more social impact with their giving. The ideal participant has ongoing direct experience with philanthropy.

What Will You Learn?

High impact philanthropy is getting the most “good” for your philanthropic “buck.” It is the process by which a philanthropist makes the biggest difference possible, given the amount of capital invested. This means focusing first on achieving social impact – i.e., a meaningful improvement in the lives of others (vs. other concerns such as maximizing the funder’s tax benefit or honoring a funder’s loved one). Participants will learn the tools and strategies needed to apply the principles of high impact philanthropy to their own efforts.

In addition to adapting the program’s format, our team has also expanded our curriculum to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, related economic crisis, and heightened calls for racial justice, particularly in the US. This year’s program incorporates timely content and skill-building critical for funders at this time:

  • Impact of COVID-19 on philanthropy and nonprofits
  • Effective crisis-response giving and grantmaking
  • How to integrate considerations of structural inequity into philanthropy

Program Schedule

The new program dates for Funder Education will be February 8 through February 24. Synchronous sessions are scheduled in 1 – 1.5 hour blocks from 10:30 am and 2:30 pm EST, with other learning scheduled on your time as independent and/or small-group work, for a total learning time of 20-25 hours.

Week 1
Synchronous Sessions

  • Monday, February 8th
  • Tuesday, February 9th
  • Wednesday, February 10th


Week 2

Small group assignments and individual reflection

Week 3
Synchronous Sessions

  • Monday, February 22nd
  • Tuesday, February 23rd
  • Wednesday, February 24th
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Funder Education Information Request

Tell us more about yourself, your experience, and your interest in funder education to request more information or begin an application. A CHIP program manager may contact you.

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Responsive Curriculum

Our proven curriculum is rooted in CHIP’s 13+ years of helping individual donors and professional grantmakers worldwide achieve greater social impact. Our course delivery is based on best practices in online education from the University of Pennsylvania, one of the first four universities to pioneer Coursera. We are also leveraging capabilities at our home in Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice, which has long offered online programs for graduate students at the masters and the doctorate level, as well as continuing education in social impact strategy and leadership.

Although we are moving to a virtual setting, we will keep the cohort small to maintain engagement between and among participants and instructors. The program delivery and content will combine synchronous, interactive, independent, and small-group structures to provide the high-quality educational experience and facilitate the peer to peer connections that are the hallmarks of the program.

Taking into account CHIP’s latest guidance on crisis grantmaking and urgent and long-term needs generated by COVID-19, participants will learn:

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 and inscrutable acronyms. Learn how you can identify like-minded funders and the latest best practices around your own funding interests.

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, equitability and social justice.

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?

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 10 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.

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.

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.

Good governance, to say nothing of US law, requires that every foundation have a board approved investment policy. To achieve maximum impact with those dollars, that policy should reflect the desired values and goals of what the foundation hopes to achieve with its grants. This session of the course will present how investment policies to achieve perpetuity have traditionally been set. It will also demonstrate how to establish an investment policy for spend-out, and how you can use various values screens and vehicles to more closely align the full scope of foundation assets. While this session will use a private foundation model as the basis of the discussion, the same principles apply for individuals, trusts, and many donor advised fund strategies as well.

Trustees, family members, and executive staff who are involved in philanthropy must establish policies – some mandated by the law, and others required for good governance. 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, , and more as early as possible. This course module will review those policies covered earlier in the week, add those that are legally mandated, and recommend processes for establishing them as painlessly and productively as possible.

Every grant has an end, even if it is to renew. This session of the course will help funders establish constructive guidelines for exit strategies for a variety of circumstances and will serve to complete the funding cycle process of the week.

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.

Program Faculty

Our faculty are recognized thought leaders in the philanthropic and social impact sectors. Their diverse experiences and training integrate knowledge for real-world social change. Through the online format, we will be adding guest interviews and lectures to enhance the experience.  View a list of faculty members who have participated in past sessions of this course. >

Interested participants should fill out the form below in order to begin their application to the program. After reviewing the information, program staff will contact you to discuss your candidacy for the program.

Application Process

To start the admissions process, please compete the application form and our team will contact you regarding next steps.

We are expecting high demand for this session, but will be keeping the program small to allow program faculty to build an appropriate class and customize certain modules to address the goals and perspectives of admitted students. If you find that your plans have changed and you cancel more than 60 days before the program, CHIP will refund 90% of your fees or transfer 100% of your fees to a future session. With less than 60 days notice, we will transfer 100% your fees to a future session.

Registration Rates

$7,250

Special Rates

Introductory rate for new online format: $6,250
Penn Alumni registration: $5,250

We encourage multiple attendees from the same organization. For more information about group rates, onsite trainings, and custom engagements, please contact Mariah Casias at mariahc@upenn.edu.