Note on Innovations in Philanthropy

By Gregory J Dees and Karen Jacobson

Provides a framework for thinking systematically about innovations in philanthropy. To be successful and sustainable, innovative approaches to philanthropy need to create value for donors and recipients, as well as for society. Three historical innovations in society are professional foundations, federated community campaigns, and community foundations. Even the most innovative program contains threads of the old. Modern innovations include charitable giving funds, e-philanthropy, and venture philanthropy. The most successful innovations are those that expand the volume of donated funds in a sustainable way while improving the productivity of those funds through increases in efficiency or effectiveness. The challenge of the philanthropic project is, at the most basic level, to keep pace with changing needs and opportunities facing the social sector.

Harvard Business Review, 2000