How can we realize the promise of philanthropy?

As part of its mission, TPI seeks to advance and expand the broader field of strategic philanthropy through thought leadership, cutting-edge research, development of tools and resources for the philanthropic field, philanthropic education programs, convenings, and other field-building initiatives. This work is intrinsic to our consulting work with clients and the combination grounds us in the practical idealism needed to both inspire and deliver.

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Family Philanthropy

When TPI began in 1989, few resources existed to assist families with their philanthropy. TPI has since developed guides, tools, and more to fill this gap, including a rich collection of resources and workbooks to help families work together, plan for the future, and make their philanthropy more effective and fulfilling. In 1994, TPI hosted a national convening with the Johnson Foundation and W.K. Kellogg Foundation on philanthropic opportunities created by the intergenerational transfer of wealth. In 2000, TPI published What’s a Donor to Do?, a first-ever major sourcebook on resources available for new and emerging donors, focusing primarily on individuals and families. Building on this seminal work, TPI developed the Excellence in Family Philanthropy Initiative, a multi-year undertaking to offer trainings and support to community foundations to enhance their work with families.

TPI continues to focus efforts on supporting and strengthening family philanthropy. In addition to continued development of tools and resources, TPI offers customized seminars, workshops, and learning experiences for funders, advisors, community foundations, and others. Topics include:

  • Finding a focus and establishing philanthropic goals
  • Involving the next generation in giving
  • Exploring philanthropy’s role in building a lasting family legacy
  • Evaluating the impact of your philanthropy
  • Creating an expression of donor intent
  • Raising generous children

Corporate Philanthropy

We believe the business world has a tremendous untapped opportunity to achieve more impact through corporate philanthropy and community engagement efforts. Building on more than three decades of work with corporate clients, TPI shares innovative models and approaches, challenges, research, and insights through publications, presentations, workshops, and other vehicles. As part of our commitment to inspire more and better corporate philanthropy, TPI worked with Paul Newman and corporate leaders in 1999 to form the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP). Following the 2008 recession, we shared findings from a series of interviews with corporate leaders on how to more deeply embed philanthropy within corporate culture, how companies can go further in doing well by doing good, and keys to rebuilding trust in large corporations.

In addition to these initiatives and resources, TPI conducts workshops for corporate funders on a range of topics. TPI workshops for corporate funders include topics such as:

  • Designing signature initiatives
  • Using corporate philanthropy to build a culture of engagement
  • Trends and new models in corporate philanthropy
  • Developing strategies to leverage the full range of corporate resources to enhance impact
  • Aligning corporate and philanthropic goals through international giving

Place-based Philanthropy and Community Foundations

Research indicates that most foundations have long-standing giving relationships with particular communities, and many have affinities with disadvantaged neighborhoods. TPI has worked with numerous place-based funders, including community foundations, to support their efforts to deepen and sustain impact in particular communities. Research on place-based philanthropy suggests that the most effective funders:

  • Recognize the importance of place;
  • Respond to pressing community needs;
  • Lead with powerful ideas and sustaining force;
  • Set ambitious yet reasonable expectations;
  • Collect and use data;
  • Catalyze and convene stakeholders;
  • Leverage resources; and
  • Recognize they cannot do this work alone and make real progress.

Community foundations represent a unique category among place-based funders. They play significant roles as civic leaders that can convene and galvanize a wide range of stakeholders, deepen donor engagement, and grow the impact of philanthropy in the community. Through a range of thought leadership and field-building initiatives, TPI has a long history of supporting efforts to build the community foundation field and enhance knowledge, tools, and insights to strengthen place-based philanthropy. TPI has sought to identify both current and future gaps and needs for the community foundation field and bring together peer foundations to co-design creative solutions. Click here to learn more about TPI’s consulting services to community foundations and their donors, and contributions to the growth of the field.

International Philanthropy

In addition to providing consulting services to funders giving internationally, TPI’s Center for Global Philanthropy conducts original research and field-building work to contribute to the growing body of knowledge about global and international philanthropy. Through this work, we seek to deepen understanding among funders of philanthropic goals, interests, and trends, lift up the voices of people with lived experience in their communities, and inspire approaches with the greatest promise to spur lasting change. Through customized educational offerings, workshops, publications, infrastructure-building efforts, and the Innovations in International Philanthropy Symposium, we hope to inspire more donors to engage globally in truly effective philanthropy.

Innovations in International Philanthropy Symposium

TPI first designed and co-hosted the Innovations in International Philanthropy Symposium with New England International Donors (NEID) in 2018 and did so again in 2021. Bringing together globally minded donors, foundations, companies, and investors, these events aim to support the growth of strategic and collaborative international philanthropy by helping funders move from ideas to action and rethink how they can best use philanthropic resources to meet the world’s greatest challenges.

Ramping Up for Impact

With the ongoing intergenerational transfer of wealth and the increasing ability to rapidly accumulate significant first-generation wealth, philanthropic capital is growing at a rapid pace. As individuals, families, foundations, and companies ramp up in size and impact, they face opportunities and challenges. Ramping up can mean different things to different funders. We refer to two different entry points into this conversation – ramping up in size (an anticipated or unanticipated increase in philanthropic resources) and impact (an intentional decision to increase the impact of philanthropy).

In recent years, TPI has focused some of its field-building efforts and client consulting work on addressing the complexities, challenges, and opportunities of ramping up. This work includes two resources developed in partnership with Exponent Philanthropy – a guide titled Ramping Up Your Foundation to help foundations thoughtfully and responsibly plan for a ramp up in giving or adjust to an infusion of assets, and a toolkit called Ramping Up for High-Impact Philanthropy to support donors, foundation trustees, and staff who are taking steps to significantly ramp up the impact of their giving.

TPI works with funders of all kinds to help them successfully prepare for and go through the process of ramping up. We can help you:

  • Create a strategic plan for ramping up
  • Assess, strengthen, and structure governance and programmatic strategies
  • Conduct research and benchmarking on social issues, operations, and governance
  • Design, execute, and evaluate new programs and initiatives
  • Build and work with a full team of advisors
  • Engage key stakeholders and collaborate with others to leverage impact
  • Assess progress and refine or revamp strategies as needed

Impact Investing

TPI encourages funders of all types to use all of their resources – financial, intellectual, human, and social – for social and environmental change, including nontraditional approaches like impact investing. In partnership with financial and wealth advisors, we help funders:

  • Understand the field of impact investing and explore how it might support specific goals
  • Learn more about various approaches, including challenges and potential pitfalls
  • Define impact investing strategies, policies, and capabilities for implementation
  • Scan the environment; assess the potential market, gaps, and opportunities for impact; and investigate specific impact investing opportunities
  • Track the impact of such investments

TPI impact investing resources and initiatives include a primer called Navigating the Territory: A Guide to Impact Investing for Donors, for those who are relatively new to impact investing, and Invest for Better (IFB), a national campaign to engage women in impact investing.

Invest for Better

TPI launched the Invest for Better (IFB) initiative in 2017 as a national campaign to motivate and educate women to activate their personal and philanthropic investment assets, accelerating and shaping the ecosystem of values-aligned and impact investing. After tremendous success with the growth of volunteer-led Invest for Better Circles, IFB became an independent nonprofit in September 2021. Through values-aligned investing education, peer-led investing circles, and a trusted community, women are equipped to take courageous action towards growing their money and building a better world.

Roles of Professional Advisors in Promoting Philanthropy

TPI has an extensive history of engagement and partnership with professional advisors throughout the U.S. and beyond. A core component of this work is helping advisors become more effective at engaging in conversations about philanthropy with their clients and supporting their clients’ philanthropic goals. The philanthropic conversation between professional advisors and their clients is important to have early and often, but many of these conversations fall short of their potential.

To better understand the extent and dynamics of philanthropic conversations taking place between wealthy individuals and their advisors, TPI has conducted a series of regional and national studies over the past 25 years to understand trends, perspectives, challenges, and opportunities to support these discussions with high-net-worth clients. The 2013 Study of the Philanthropic Conversation and 2018 Study were conducted in partnership with U.S. Trust.

Incubating and Connecting

Since the beginning, TPI has successfully nurtured social enterprises and private foundations as part of our mission to grow and shape the field of philanthropy. TPI’s strategic partnerships and staffing in the formative stages of these initiatives provide the support needed to encourage innovation, growth, and ultimately independence. We believe this field-building role is not only critical to our mission, but also helps us connect our philanthropic clients to the broader and ever-changing ecosystem of social change.