Course Description

“Philanthropy can be both a potent vehicle through which public needs are met and an instrument for the expression of private beliefs and commitments” - Peter Frumkin, Strategic Giving, 2006 The roots and impact of philanthropy runs deep in American history and culture and the role of philanthropists and philanthropic organizations is pervasive in contemporary American society. The interplay and interrelationships between donors and nonprofit organizations will be the focus of this course. It will examine trends and issues impacting philanthropy. This will include a critical look at the growth and role of nonprofit institutions, their relevance and whether they are organized appropriately and have the flexibility and temperament to take on significant issues and problems. It will look at the changing relationships corporate, foundation and individual donors seek with nonprofits and the influence and impatience of the charitable donor who is asking for more accountability and documented results. Increasingly, donors want to be engaged in their funding of nonprofits, have a role in how their contributions are used and see that their contributions have an impact on community need. Discussion will focus on what motivates donors, how results can be measured and what information matters to donors. Key questions to be addressed will be: Does the highly engaged donor have a more positive impact on the institution funded than the more passive giver? Donor rules and regulations: more or less, what works best? Why are donors impatient? Given all that has been invested in services to date, why have community conditions been slow to change? What changes do nonprofits have to make (to program, staff, boards) to meet the changing demands of donors?

Course Objectives

The course has been designed to support students’ acquisition of a range of knowledge and specific skills related to philanthropy and philanthropic practice. Knowledge

  • To understand the role of philanthropy in contemporary American society and how the history of philanthropy has helped shape current practice.
  • To understand the trends and issues which are impacting philanthropy and nonprofit organizations.
  • To understand the growth and impact of nonprofit institutions.
  • To understand how the expectations of corporations, foundations and individual donors for concrete measurable results are impacting the management and governance of nonprofits.
  • To understand those principles, standards and practices which can significantly enhance the value, role and impact of nonprofit organizations.
  • To understand the value of strategic partnerships among philanthropic and nonprofits organizations.
  • To understand the fundamental values and motivations which characterize different donors and philanthropic organizations.


  • To acquire basic skills in building productive relationships with donors, in asking for funds and in managing fundraising appeals.
  • To acquire skills in critically examining the contemporary role of nonprofits and to identify those new or modified principles, practices and strategies which could significantly improve the impact of these institutions and increase their competitive advantage in raising funds.
  • To acquire basic skills in managing and distributing donated funds. This will include:
    • Setting goals, priorities, policies, procedures, forms and process for decision-making and distribution of funds received.
    • Development of a “request for proposals” and marketing this with potential nonprofit applicants.
    • Development of procedures for assessing and evaluating proposals.
    • Notifying recipients of grants.
    • Tracking and measuring impact of grants made.
    • Protocols for investing funds.


  • To help students define their own values, goals and roles as current and future donors and philanthropists and relate this to their own philosophies of service and to their responsibilities, not only “as productive citizens serving in their own society and the greater world community,” but also as members of the one human family “that proceeds from its one Creator.” (Quotations from the Mission Statement of Providence College)

Note on Course Content

This course will be build around a seminar format with maximum emphasis placed on developing a learning community among course participants - instructor and students. Philanthropy 470 was first offered in the spring semester 2008. Last year’s experience has shaped and refined the course for 2009. In addition, the Fidelity/Campus Compact grant (see below) adds a new practical dimension to the course. Because of this Philanthropy 470 is still a work in progress. It is anticipated during the course that syllabus changes will be made based on class discussion, student interests and the decisions made on implementing the grants program and related fund raising. In addition, adjustments will be made in the Course Outline to accommodate schedules of visiting speakers and visits to the United Way of Rhode Island and The Rhode Island Foundation. The course will balance readings and discussions on philanthropy with practical service-learning skill-development experiences. Because of the grant from Fidelity/Campus Compact, up to $15,000 is available for student-directed grants to community-based nonprofit organizations. In turn, students will be expected to design and begin to implement fund raising plans to sustain this fund. Students will lead planning and decision-making in each of these tasks and will in fact serve as a board of directors of the Making a Difference Fund (MAD).

Required Texts

Wagner, David. What’s Love Got to Do with It? A Critical Look at American Charity. New York. W.W. Norton & Company. 2000 Clinton, Bill. Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World. New York. Alfred A. Knopf. 2007 A Readings Packet has been prepared and will be distributed to the class. In addition other articles and handouts will be handed out in class or the links to other articles and resources posted on the class website on Angel.

Course Requirements

(1.) Postings on Discussion Forms (15% of grade)

  • Periodically throughout the semester students will be asked to post in discussion forms on ANGEL reflections on specific class discussions and readings and answers to specific questions which will later be discussed in class. Students may also be asked to comment on others student postings.

(2.) Essays (30% of grade) Three essays will be required. Each should be no shorter than four full pages and no longer than six full pages (double- or 1.5-spaced, 12 point, MSWORD).

  • Essay #1: Will require that each student research a particular foundation and detail its approach to distributing funds. Details to be announced.
  • Essay #2: Will require that each student research a particular nonprofit organization or NGO (nongovernmental organization) and detail its approach to funds development. Details to be announced.
  • Essay #3: This will be the final requirement of the course due when final exam would have taken place. Topic and details to be announced.

(3.) Class project (40% of the grade)

  • There will be two-part project focuses on planning and implementing a fund distribution program and developing and beginning to implement a fund raising program for the Making a Difference Fund (MAD) in which the whole class will participate. This requirement is focused on supporting students’ acquisition of knowledge and specific skills related to philanthropy and philanthropic practice. The class will be divided into groups to accomplish these tasks.

Fund Distribution:

  • Meet with community organizations and residents in the Smith Hill neighborhood.
  • Determine priorities for funding, write a request for proposal, and use the network of contacts developed to promote availability of funds.
  • Refine criteria and process for judging proposals.
  • Determine finalists for grants. Visit these organizations.
  • Announce final decisions and work with the college, Campus Compact and Fidelity to promote these decisions.


  • Refine fund raising plans to sustain the MAD donor advised fund.
  • Review these plans with the Institute, and PC’s development office and administration and seek their advice and support.
  • Meet with Feinstein/Department Alumni Group to seek their support.
  • Design and launch an initial fund raising appeal.

Details on this assignment will be presented in class and shaped by class participation and decision-making.

(4.) Seminar Participation (15% of grade)

  • The seminar format requires maximum participation of all involved will be required. Discussions will be informed by reading, student research, speakers and exercises in philanthropic practice. To be a true learning community, each participant has a responsibility and obligation to attend and participate fully in the course. Each should come to class every day and should be prepared to discuss the readings assigned for that date. Just showing up to class certainly is important, but active engagement of everyone is expected in discussions, presentations, and exercises, and by asking questions or providing insights.

The following factors are important:

  • Attending class regularly.
  • Demonstrating familiarity with, understanding of, and thoughtfulness about readings and experiences in discussion.
  • Actively participating in and facilitating class discussions.
  • Completing special assignments.
  • Actively participating in Angel forums.
  • Completing all written assignments on time.
  • Cooperating fully as a group member in all group assignments.

Course Outline

Date Topic Readings & In class (Always check Angel for updates) Out of class assignments Week One Jan. 20 Course Overview, & Background Syllabus Jan. 22 - Report (to be distributed) and Presentation - Workshop on Making a Difference Fund

  • Appointment of Groups
  • Design of Grants Process
  • Tools & Resources
  • Schedule for Grant Review and Grant Making

Week Two Jan. 27 Perspectives on Charity and Philanthropy Angel/Lessons/Web Links Readings - Slate: How to Give Away a Million Dollars Giving: Chapters 1 & 2 pp 3-31 Reading Packet: - The Four Traditions of Philanthropy - Big Gifts: Tax Breaks and a Debate on Charity - Wealth and Philanthropy: Who Gives and Why Post by 8AM on Jan. 27 on Discussion Forum the answer to these questions: If you had a million dollars to give, who would get it? Why? Jan. 29 What’s Love Got To Do With It? pp: 1-14 (Intro), 46-115 (Chapters 2, 3 & 4) Post by Jan. 28 at 8AM a reflection on Discussion Forum on this reading. Week Three Feb. 3 What’s Love Got To Do With It? pp. 117-180 (Chapters 5, 6 & 7) Post by Feb. 2at 8AM a reflection on Discussion Forum on this reading Feb. 5 Grantmaking: The proposal process and the logic model Angel/Lessons/Web Links Readings: - Kellogg Foundation Guide to the Logic Model Read Introduction pp 1-14 - The Foundation Center: Proposal Writing Short Course Week Four Feb. 10 Foundations Angel/Lessons/Web Links Readings/The Foundation Center Readings: - What is a Foundation? - Highlights of Foundation Giving Trends Feb. 12 The Nonprofit Sector Reading Packet: - The Resilient Sector, The State of Nonprofit America. Giving: Chapters 3,4,5,6 pp 32-87 Angel/Lessons/Web Links Readings: - Principles for Good Governance and Ethical Practice: A Guide for Charities and Foundations - Rhode Island’s Nonprofit Sector: More than Charity In class PowerPoint: Trends and Issues in Nonprofit Sector Week Five Feb. 19 Perspectives on Charity and Philanthropy Angel/Lessons/Web Links Readings Strategic Giving: The Art and Science of Philanthropy, Introduction pp 1-28 Donor Advised Funds Week Six Feb. 24 Workshop Workshop on Making a Difference Fund

  • Group Reports
  • Refine Plans for Grant-Making/Applications Process
  • Review and Approve issuing Request for Proposals
  • Review and Approve Lists of Invitees Essay #1 due

(Foundation Report) – Post on Discussion Forum Post Summary Group Reports Feb 23, 8AM Feb. 26 Corporate Giving Reading Packet: - Survey on Wealth and Philanthropy – The Economist - The New Powers In Giving Reading - What’s Wrong with Profit In class videos: - Timberline & City Year - Bill Gates & Warren Buffet on Charlie Rose Show Week Seven March 3 Foundations (continued) & Trends in Philanthropy Discussion of student research on foundations Reading Packet: The Monitor Group: Looking Out for the Future: An Orientation for Twenty-First century Philanthropists March 5 Visit to RI Foundation (tentative) SPRING RECESS Mar. 7 to Mar. 16 Week Eight March 17 Presentation by Fund Raising Professional (tentative) March 19 Visit with United Way of Rhode Island (tentative) Week Nine March 24 Fund Raising Basics Angel/Web Link Readings/Joyaux Associates: - Creating the Most Effective Fund Development Program in your Organization - Key Roles in Fund Development - The Donor-Centric Pledge Angel/Lessons/Web Link/Readings - The Secrets of Their Success Workshop: Sustaining the Making a Difference Fund

  • Review of Plans to Sustain Making a Difference Fund

March 26 Workshop Grantsmaking Workshop:

  • Review of Proposals – Brief summaries presented
  • Make initial rankings
  • Identify potential questions for applicants
  • Plan for visits with finalists Essay #2 due on a nonprofit organization and its development efforts. Post on Discussion Forum

Week Ten March 31 Current Donor Strategies Giving, Chapters 7,8,9, pp 109-151 Reading Packet: - Marching with a Mouse - You, Too, Can Be a Banker to the Poor - Extra Helping, April 2 Giving, Chapters 10, 11, 12, pp 152-203 Reading Packet: - Bracing for Lean Times Ahead - The Sin in Doing Good Deeds Week Eleven April 7 Celebrities as Philanthropists: Does it work? Angel/Lessons/WebLinks/Readings: - Bono: Commencement Speech at U Penn 5/17/04 - Traub, James. The Statesman, New York Times Magazine, September 18, 2005 - Angelina, Mia and Bono: Celebrities and International Development Week Twelve April 14 Grant Decisions: Report and Recommendations on Grants April 16 Week Thirteen April 21 Grant Decisions: Reports and Recommendations on Grants April 23 Week Fourteen April 28 My Role as a Philanthropist Giving, Chapter 13, pp 204-211 April 30 Learning Circle: “Take Aways”