This course is designed to provide students with a rigorous understanding and practical experience in how philanthropy can create social change, including how to:
1. Analyze and identify social challenges and issues you would want to fund with philanthropic dollars;
2. Evaluate strategic options for addressing social challenges;
3. Develop selection criteria for funding;
4. Evaluate funding opportunities through a due diligence process;
5. Allocate funds; and
6. Evaluate results.
According to Giving USA, $316 billion was given to charities in 2012. And while it may appear to be easy to give money away, it is, as Aristotle pointed out some 2,300 years ago, not an easy matter, and ever more challenging today. The reasons for this are complex. Some are contextual: the nonprofit sector has dramatically changed since the recession of 2008. Some are analytical: Will poverty be alleviated through access to capital, education, health, or responsive government? Some are issue-based: How one supports K-12 education reform efforts is surely very different than how one supports the arts or environmental groups. And some of the reasons are very much determined by the ability (or lack thereof) of the nonprofit itself to deliver outputs, outcomes and/or impact – however those elements are to be defined by the nonprofit itself let alone other stakeholders.
The best way to experience these dynamics is to involve oneself in the actual art of philanthropy. While this course will have its typical set of lectures, readings and guest lecturers, a core component of the class will be to work in teams and endeavor to grant $20,000 in a specific issue area to specific nonprofit(s) in New York City, and to do so effectively. The team with the "best in class" analysis and recommendation will be able to grant $50,000 to a specific nonprofit in New York City, which will be disbursed at the end of the course.
Doug Bauer was a Columbia Business School faculty member from to 2016.
Melissa Berman was a Columbia Business School faculty member from 2007 to 2016.