Philanthropy and Public Policy

Course Details
6:00 PM - 8:50 PM
Course Information
Spring 2017
Course Number: 
Course Description:

Philanthropy is an act or gift done or made for humanitarian purposes, according to Merrian-Webster .  Organized philanthropy, the body established charitable nonprofit organizations, has a long history of seeding and accelerating shifts in public policy. From the early pioneers (Carnegie, Rockefeller, Sage) to the philanthrocapitalists of the 21st century (Bill & Melida Gates, Warren Buffet and Mark Zuckerberg) .

Philanthropies have been established with a mix of earned revenues, inherited wealth and charitable donations.  Thus the economic downturn of 2008 left philanthropic organizations with diminished capacity to contribute to nonprofit organizations.  Likewise charitable giving from individuals, the largest source of charitable contributions in the United States, was significantly diminished.  Because of the volatility of the market, the political climate, and the state budget, the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors are experiencing higher demands with stretched resources and capacity.

Public Policy 45100 provides a framework within which to analyze and understand the changing nature of private philanthropy and its importance to society at large. This course will distinguish between charity, donations for immediate basic needs, and philanthropic giving for strategic policy oriented purposes .  It will examine historical case studies of philanthropic investments into public systems.  It will also address turning points in public policy history, where philanthropic freedom was questioned due to its relationships with social movements.  Finally it will review current trends and consider how strategic philanthropic investments have directly impacted advocacy for change, protections, or reforms of given public policies. 

Special attention will be given to private philanthropy’s influence in social movements, including public school reform, health care reform, community development and corporate social responsibility. Discussions of leadership strategies, outcome measurement and philanthropic impact will be woven into class sessions.   Course materials will include touchtone literature in the philanthropic field as well as topic specific articles.

The course will meet once weekly in seminar format. All classes will include senior leaders in philanthropy. Full class participation and completion of required readings will be expected for every class session. The online Chalk System of communication will be used to post course materials as well as facilitate the general exchange of information between class meetings.