Theory and Practice in Grantmaking

Course Syllabus Focus

Philanthropic Foundations

Course Syllabus Institution

New York University
Franklin, Jason
Lyons, William J.
Charitable foundations are one of the most concentrated sources of social capital in American society, distributing almost $43 billion in 2007 to promote scientific, educational, cultural, religious, or other charitable purposes. While they represent only a small portion of charitable giving, their influence is far larger. Foundations shape the nonprofit sector, influencing both the strategies taken by their grantees and the management of their work.

The course will provide students with an understanding of charitable foundations role in society and how they function from the inside. Students will learn - through readings, lectures, discussions, conversations with foundation professionals, and a simulated grantmaking experience - about the changing influence of philanthropy in American society and about the internal workings of foundations, gaining a deeper appreciation for the challenges of running a successful grantmaking program.

The highlight of this course will be a concluding, three-week grantmaking exercise. Over the course of this exercise, every student will fill the roles of program officer and grant committee member, reviewing actual grant proposals and collectively building a proposed grant docket.


Blog Posts

More on time, value, and time limits

February 19, 2018

A new report applies a theory of time and value in philanthropy to three real cases, to see how a foundation could decide whether to operate with a limited life, based on the amount and kind of value it hopes to create.


Oct 05

Rip Rapson
President and CEO
The Kresge Foundation