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Excellence in Philanthropy

Q&A with Diana Davis Spencer and Abby Moffatt

Beginning in the 1960s with the creation of a history prize at West Point, the Shelby Cullom Davis Foundation and its successor, the Diana Davis Spencer Foundation, have been staunch supporters of the military, veterans, and their families. We sat down with Diana Davis Spencer and Abby Moffatt, the foundation’s chairman and CEO, respectively.

The Educators

Bruce and Suzie Kovner give to schoolchildren, music students, and policymaking.  Here’s how and why.

Nonprofit Spotlight: EarthEnable

A healthier $30 alternative to dirt floors.

Interview with Denny Sanford

Denny Sanford on his $1.4 billion in giving to medical research, physics, and more. 

A Watchdog with Only One Eye

"The history she describes is not hidden, and the people she writes about are not radicals.” A review of author Jane Mayer’s book Dark Money: This very selective “exposé” distorts reality.

How Philanthropy Bolsters Capitalism

How charitable giving strengthens free enterprise and mobility in the United States, Philanthropy Roundtable vice president Karl Zinsmeister writes in City Journal

The Power of Science Philanthropy

Why private funding is so important to the experimenting that makes us smarter, healthier, and richer.

Redefining Usury

How a self-interested banker helped millions of people prosper. In this book review we learn about Jacob Fugger, who lived from 1459 to 1525, and the ways he powerfully nudged the modern world into existence.

Interview with Gordon Gund

He’s been blind since 1970, but is lighting a path to prevention and cures for fellow sufferers. 

Are College Sports Out of Control?

Gilbert Gaul argues in his new book, Billion-Dollar Ball, that athletic programs at a number of major universities have become so lucrative that it should be questioned whether they deserve to be considered part of higher education and entitled to various benefits.

A Different Kind of TV Network

BYUtv and the search of virtuous entertainment. 

Newspaper Nonprofits

Gerry Lenfest is a leading American philanthropist, and also owner of two Philadelphia newspapers—the Inquirer and Daily News. At the beginning of this year he combined his occupations and donated the newspapers, plus their companion website to the Philadelphia ­Foundation.

Call of the Wild

A marriage of market-based conversation and treetop acrobatics helps kids succeed in school. 

Sports vs. Breakdown

We profile four grassroots ventures that attack community demons with play and discipline—using sports to draw young people into more wholesome and productive lives. 

Donor with a Long Memory

A German, struck by the generosity and kindness of American GIs during World War II, recently gave $16.5 million to the U.S. Marine Corps ­Scholarship Foundation. 

The Passion and Pitfalls of Giving to College Sports

Boone Pickens, Phil Knight, Kevin Plank, and many other donors are putting big bucks into college athletics. What are they getting in return?

It’s the Governance, Stupid

If New York really wants to solve the financial and quality-of-life disasters of housing projects, it need only study the bold governance reforms that transformed two previous state-run messes, schools and parks, into smashing successes. But of course, it’s doing the opposite. 

Charitable Giving and the Fabric of America

Private philanthropy is crucial in making America the unusual country that it is. To begin to understand this crucial part of America, it is useful—and also inspiring—to consider some of America’s great philanthropists.

Giving Helps the Giver Too

There is ample evidence that philanthropy does more than just help the recipients. It satisfies deep human needs in givers as well—opening avenues to meaning, happiness, and ways of thriving that aren't easily located otherwise.

Charity Brought Us the Father of Finance

The Broadway smash musical that tells the story of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton has important veins of philanthropy rippling through it. The storyline describes how Hamilton’s American experience was initiated by charity.

Social Justice Relies on Private Action

In this RealClearPolitics article, Karl Zinsmeister emphasizes the role of philanthropy in the civil-rights movement, and the powerful role of privately funded civil society in protecting individuals. 

Knights Rescue the Oppressed

For years, nonprofits and foundations have been sending aid to refugees in the Middle East and Europe. One organization that is focusing its efforts on these victims is the Knights of Columbus, who have given over $4 million in assistance to the Middle East.

Instant, Imaginative Aid

When the Centers for Disease Control called for emergency assistance to fight the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Paul Allen responded. But as Ebola cases have receded, Allen’s focus on the disease has not.

Interview with Carrie and John Morgridge

These enthusiastic donors believe every gift matters. 

The 99 Percent

The news in December that Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan have decided to give away 99 percent of their Facebook stock by the end of their lives impressed many Americans. The couple are in excellent company.

Toy Store Glee

Carol Suchman was walking in New York City when she came upon a local toy store that had gone out of business. “The toys in there looked so sad, and they were gathering dust,” she said. “It occurred to me we should bring those toys to where they should be going.” To needy kids.

How Philanthropy Fuels American Success

This exclusive excerpt from The Almanac of American Philanthropy details how America's deep culture of private giving keeps our nation thriving. 

A Modern Barnraising in Boiling Springs

A South Carolina high-school community was determined to "give a home" to faithful, "always been there" custodian of 20 years after her home burned to the ground. 

The Art of Public-Policy Philanthropy: The Battle of Ideas

Featuring Kim Dennis, Gara LaMarche, Roger Hertog, and Chris DeMuth. 

The Texas Miracle wasn’t just economic; it was philanthropic

Texas stereotypes may conjure up plains and cattle but, as in the rest of the country, most of Texas’s population and wealth resides in the cities. And those cities have recently become some of the most philanthropic places on earth.

Nonprofit Spotlight: Food For Life

Students learn good habits plus culinary skills at Food For Life. 

25 Ways to Strengthen America

From investing in think tanks to enabling veterans to apply their leadership, here are 25 ways that funders can strengthen our free society through their charitable giving.

Laying Foundations for Change

Who says bricks-and-mortar philanthropy isn’t effective?

Interview with Bruce Kovner

Trading titan Bruce Kovner has focused his philanthropy on free-market think tanks, arts (especially music organizations), and school-reform advocacy. 

Charity Science Research 2, Death 0

Johns Hopkins ­University scientist Jonathan Ling wanted to set the record straight. He wanted to know whether the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which raised $115 million for disease research in six weeks back in 2014 (and then tens of millions more in repeat donations since), actually accomplished anything.

Almanac of American Philanthropy video preview

We know that philanthropy in America is a bursting, bubbling impulse that has vital effects on almost every sector of our society. In this lively talk, widely published author Karl Zinsmeister goes even further, arguing that without philanthropy there would be no America as we know it—and explaining why.

Higher Ed, Lower Costs

An e-learning entrepreneur brings cut-rate practical degrees to far-flung corners of the world. 

Asking Tough Questions

The William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership honors David Weekley: homebuilder, charity-grower, and hard-nosed inquisitor

Something Out of Nothing

It is said that necessity is the mother of invention. And invention is the father of philanthropy, because it creates the wealth that enables great generosity. Now a dazzling new book uncovers philanthropy’s grandparentage.

Racing Against Cancer

Jockey Victor Espinoza netted about $80,000 when his mount American Pharoah swept the ­Triple Crown of horseracing this year. But Espinoza handed his historic winnings, in their entirety, away to charity. 

From Big Success to Local Succor

How one donor found satisfaction in helping a unique community. 

Nonprofit Spotlight: Birch Community Services

Birch Community Services gives away food and asks for life-change in return. 

Books in Brief

The Paradox of Generosity presents data showing that givers are kinder to their neighbors, find themselves in better health, report having a strong life purpose, and generally describe themselves as “very happy.”

Donors Who Come to the Aid of Their Country

National defense may seem like the last place philanthropy could have a role. Here’s some little-known history to make you think again.

Juma Ventures

Combining work, school, and play with sports-stadium jobs that earn college tuition. 

Stronger Together

Donors are increasingly using expert intermediaries to bundle and target their giving.

Alms Alchemy

The National Christian Foundation’s ability to turn unusual contributions to gold is creating a new trove of generosity.

Micro Lending, Major Impact

How the maker of SweetTARTS is combining friendship and capital in one tangy dose.

More Than Just Academics

Some might view the decline of Catholic schools as a Catholic problem. In reality it is an urban education problem that should concern everyone. Catholic schools have power and potential beyond book learning.

A New Way to Serve

Venture for America is bringing entrepreneurial vim and vigor to unexpected corners of our country.