Strategies for philanthropy


The idea that philanthropic altruism is incompatible with a strategic approach is now outdated. In a context of professionalisation of the social economy sector, general interest organisations are now being asked to be ever more transparent, to measure their impact and to be accountable to their donors in order to demonstrate the proper use of their donations. Naturally, building a strategy has quickly become just as necessary for philanthropic structures, especially for foundations with large budgets and significant influence. It is no longer just a question of "doing good", but also of "doing it well".

How to give effectively? American professor Peter Frumkin was one of the first people to theorize this issue in his book The Essence of Strategic Giving published in 2010. Now a valuable reference on the subject, he explains that a good philanthropic strategy is based on 5 main pillars: the value, the logical framework, the system, the time horizon and the vehicle. It aims to find the right balance between the personal satisfaction of the donor and the needs of society, the general interest.

This project aims to analyze how this theory can be transposed to the French context. It also take a close look at the bodies that make up strategy, in particular the governance bodies of foundations, and at strategic dimensions that are little addressed in Peter Frumkin's book: the networking of philanthropic actors and the financing of systemic change.

Research subtopics: Strategic philanthropy🔹 Funding for systemic change🔹 Governance of foundations

Academic publications

Peter Frumkin, Anne-Claire Pache and Arthur Gautier, Vers une Philanthropie Stratégique

Vers une philanthropie stratégique was co-authored by Peter Frumkin, Anne-Claire Pache and Arthur Gautier and published in January 2020 by Odile Jacob. A practical guide, this French adaptation of Peter Frumkin's landmark book The Essence of Strategic Giving (2010) provides philanthropists with essential elements to maximise the impact of their giving, both on society and on themselves.

The authors raise 5 key questions to ask in any philanthropic endeavour: (1) What is of value to society and to me? (2) What types of interventions with which beneficiaries will have the most impact? (3) What level of commitment and visibility for my donation? (4) What form of organisation should I choose to achieve my goals? (5) When and how often should I give? Through numerous examples from the French and American philanthropic landscapes, they show that a good philanthropic strategy, aiming to reconcile generosity and effectiveness, lies in the coherence of these different dimensions.

The Philanthropy Chair thanks the Fondation de France and la Fondation Caritas for making this project possible.

Articles for the public

Additional resources

Through the testimonies of 10 French philanthropists and the insights of professors Anne-Claire Pache and Arthur Gautier, each of the 5 episode of this series illustrates the different dimensions of philanthropic strategy. 🇫🇷

This infographic summarizes Peter Frumkin's theory. It is drawn from the work of adaptation of Frumkin's theory to the French context, by Anne-Claire Pache and Arthur Gautier.