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About the Center

Sanford Building Duke University

The Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society (CSPCS) researches, analyzes, and promotes philanthropy that consistently produces high impact. CSPCS stimulates communication, collaboration, and problem-solving around pressing issues of public policy and philanthropy.

The Center was formally created in 2008 at the Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy (now the Sanford School of Public Policy), Duke University. Joel Fleishman, Professor of Law and Public Policy and the motivating force behind the Center’s establishment, is the Center’s Director. Tony Proscio, a consultant to foundations and large nonprofit organizations, is the Center's Associate Director for Research.

Generous funding from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Kresge Foundation supports the Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society.


The mission of the Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society is to help philanthropy achieve broader and deeper impact in solving problems facing the social sector and the wider civic community.The Center’s core approach is to engage with philanthropic foundations, providers of service, high-net-worth individuals, corporations, and public policy practitioners to advance and improve philanthropy. CSPCS works collaboratively with individuals and organizations within Duke and elsewhere to maximize impact.To support the Center’s mission, CSPCS staff  have set three long-term goals:

  • to increase the public policy impact of philanthropic individuals and private, corporate, and community foundations
  • to nourish philanthropy as a field of academic inquiry
  • to position Duke University as a leader both in the field of action-oriented civil society and in the field of philanthropy studies.

To achieve these goals, CSPCS focuses its strategies in four areas:

  1. using communications technologies to promote, refine, and critique the principles and methods of strategic philanthropy
  2. demonstrating the efficacy of strategic philanthropy by applying its principles and methods to specific real-world problems
  3. advancing understanding and awareness among the attentive public (foundations, very wealthy donors, NGOs, and policymakers) of the principles and methods of strategic philanthropy
  4. advancing knowledge within the scholarly community.