High Impact Philanthropy Academy

High Impact Philanthropy Academy

The path to higher impact
for philanthropic leaders

Back on campus! Join your High Impact Philanthropy Academy cohort on Penn's Ivy League campus, then continue online in an interactive, engaging classroom to earn a Certificate in High Impact Philanthropy.

Penn’s High Impact Philanthropy Academy is designed for individual donors, professional grantmakers, and other philanthropic leaders seeking greater impact. Participants learn the principles of high impact philanthropy and how to apply them in real-world situations. Along with the program’s esteemed faculty, peer participants bring a wealth of experience and a valuable community of practice for long after the program ends.

What Our Community Says

Learn more about the experience from faculty and recent alumni in videos excerpted from a recent infosession.

Is the Academy right for you?

This program is for individual donors, principals, grantmakers, foundation trustees, foundation executive directors/CEOs and other philanthropic leaders who are eager to create more social impact with their giving.

Learn more about who makes a great candidate

Participants must be individuals who make or strongly influence decisions about allocating philanthropic resources and who want their philanthropic activity to create more positive social change (i.e., philanthropy for social impact). They include individual donors, family foundation leaders, professional grantmakers, heads of public charities that make grants, and/or leaders of public agencies that provide funding to nonprofits/NGOs.

The most successful participants are:

  1. Often considering a change or pivot, (e.g., increasing giving and/or adjusting to a liquidity event, adding a new cause area or changing organizational strategy, navigating a generational transition or a relevant life change, seeking more confidence that philanthropic activity is creating intended impact)
  1. Seeking to remove obstacles or address past frustrations (e.g., resolving conflict among trustees, family members, or team members)
  2. At a point in their philanthropic path where they are motivated to learn and find new ways to achieve their goals and accelerate their impact.
  3. Interested in making connections among peers. Willing to share their experience, ask questions, and learn from and with others. May have participated in other philanthropic education opportunities.
  4. Experienced beyond just writing a check to organizations recommended by friends or acquaintances.

What will you learn?

High impact philanthropy 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 U.S.

CHIP’s High Impact Philanthropy Program offers:

  • Focus on creating high impact through giving
  • Curriculum developed over 13 years, updated and adapted for each program
  • Small, carefully selected learning cohort
  • Ivy League campus immersion followed by interactive online classes
  • A community of practice that extends beyond the time of the course.

The Certificate in High Impact Philanthropy will be awarded upon successful completion of the course and demonstration of mastery through exams.

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.

Program Curriculum & 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.

University of Pennsylvania Campus, Philadelphia

Foundations of High Impact Philanthropy

Wednesday, May 17  – 12 pm – 5 pm
Thursday, May 18 – 8:30 am – 5 pm
Friday, May 19 – 8:30 am – 1 pm


Online Interactive Learning – Zoom approx. 10:30 – 2:30 pm ET

Application to Real World Problems 

Tuesday, May 23
Wednesday, May 24
Tuesday, May 30
Wednesday, May 31

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion can be both intended social impact goals of your philanthropy, as well as instruments for achieving those goals. This section looks at practices for including talent and voices from diverse backgrounds and perspectives to ensure that their interests are served when setting priorities, developing solutions, and determining where resources will go.

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.

Admissions Process & Tuition

To start the admissions process, please compete the Application for High Impact Philanthropy and our team will contact you to schedule an interview. The admissions process is individualized and interview-based, with our team looking for a fit between your learning goals and the program. No transcripts or test scores are required.

We keep each cohort small to build a strong learning cohort of highly qualified students and allow faculty to  customize modules to address the goals and perspectives of admitted students.

Tuition and Fees

High Impact Philanthropy Academy tuition and fees are $7,500. Lunch is included during on-campus sessions.

Cancellation Policy

If you find that your plans have changed and you cancel more than 60 days before the program, CHIP will refund your fees minus the first $1,000, or transfer 100% of your fees to a future session. With less than 60 days notice, we will transfer 100% of your fees to a future session.

Group Rates

We encourage multiple attendees from the same organization. Recent pairings include parent/child, siblings, principal/board member, and executive director/program manager. For more information about group rates and custom engagements, please contact Kelly Andrews at kellyja@upenn.edu.

What Our Community Says

Learn more about the experience from faculty and recent alumni.