High Impact Philanthropy Academy

Do more good with your giving.

New class forming now! Join our 2024 cohort.

CHIP has adapted our flagship Funder Education program into a flexible online High Impact Philanthropy Academy to help donors make the biggest difference possible. In the current environment, funders don’t have a minute or a penny to waste. CHIP’s High Impact Philanthropy Academy builds on over 13 years of helping funders and grantmakers worldwide achieve greater social impact. Our High Impact Philanthropy Academy runs part-time, online for two consecutive weeks to fit into your day.

Who Should Attend?

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. 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.

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
  • A small learning cohort and interactive delivery
  • Flexible part-time schedule to fit into your day
  • A community of practice that extends beyond the time of the course.
1 Step 1
Application for High Impact Philanthropy Academy

Please complete the following application. A member of our admissions team will review your submission and contact you within 4 weeks. If you are an appropriate candidate for this program, the next step will be to schedule an interview to provide more context on the program and learn more about you as we build the upcoming cohort.

Do you currently have decision-making authority over how philanthropic resources are allocated?
If you are affiliated with one or more philanthropic organizations, please select all that apply and provide names for each of the organizations:
What role(s) do you play within the organization(s) you are affiliated with? (Select all that apply)
Are you interested in attending this with others connected to your organization?
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What Participants Say

Responsive Curriculum & Interactive Delivery

High Impact Philanthropy Academy curriculum is rooted in CHIP’s 13+ years of helping individual donors and professional grantmakers worldwide achieve greater social impact. Classroom cases and discussion incorporate CHIP’s latest guidance on crisis grantmaking, needs generated by COVID-19, addressing inequity, and accessing talent and networks to fulfill social impact goals.

CHIP’s 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 also leverage 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.

We keep each cohort small to maintain engagement between and among participants and instructors in a virtual setting. The program delivery and content 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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

What Participants Say

Application Process

To start the admissions process, please compete the Application for High Impact Philanthropy and our team will contact you regarding next steps for an interview. No transcripts or test scores are required. 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.

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.

Tuition and Fees

High Impact Philanthropy Academy tuition and fees are $7,500. A reduced early-bird rate of $6,500 is offered to participants who register before January 15. Please inquire about available payment plans and group rates.

Cancellation Policy

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.