About Philanthropy

The following links provide a selected guide to important books, articles, and commentaries on trends and topics in the practice of philanthropy. Many of these resources are available in PDF format and can be printed directly from the websites.

  • History of Philanthropy

    History of Philanthropy

    Spirited Commitment, The Samuel and Saidye Bronfman Family Foundation, 2010, by Roderick MacLeod and Eric John Abrahamson. The story and impact of this leading Canadian family and how they worked to provide the most benefit for the largest number of deserving people and causes.

    J.W. McConnell, Financier, Philanthropist, Patriot, 2008, by William Fong. A biography of a visionary Canadian philanthropist, who in 1937, established the first major foundation in Canada.

    Philanthropy in America: A History, 2011, Olivier Zunz. An in-depth exploration of the 20th century growth of American foundations.

    The Foundation: A Great American Secret; How Private Wealth is Changing the World, 2007, Joel L. Fleishman. Shows how foundations can provide a vital spur to the engine of the American, and the world’s, economy—if they are properly established and run.

  • Future of Philanthropy

    Philanthropic Leadership: Exploring Opportunities in Uncertain Times, A Tenth Anniversary Forum Summary, 2010, The Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy, University of Southern California, School of Planning, Public Policy and Development. This summary reflects the conversations from a forum held in early 2010 to discuss strategies for strengthening philanthropy and the nonprofit sector. The forum sessions focused on how philanthropy contributes to public problem solving; how to support and advance the field; and how to create a new generation of philanthropists.

    What’s Next for Philanthropy: Acting Bigger and Adapting Better in a Networked World, 2010, by Katherine Fulton, Gabriel Kasper and Barbara Kibbe, Monitor Institute. In this report,  Katherine Fulton, Gabriel Kasper and Barbara Kibbe discuss the future of philanthropic innovation, noting that the most successful funders in the future will do more than operate as effective, independent institutions.

    Disrupting Philanthropy: Technology and the Future of the Social Sector, 2010, by Lucy Bernholz with Edward Skloot and Barry Varela.  Examines the immediate and longer-term implications of networked digital technologies for philanthropy.

    Looking out for the Future, 2005, Katherine Fulton & Andrew Blau for the Monitor Group. A comprehensive and articulate look at how philanthropy is evolving now and in the next generation. It includes data about the “new ecology” of philanthropy, areas of philanthropic experimentation, and nine thought-provoking scenarios of the future.

    The Foundation Centre’s Symposium on the Future of Philanthropy, 2006. The U.S. Foundation Centre celebrated its 50th anniversary by holding a symposium on the future of philanthropy featuring words of wisdom from five long-time philanthropic leaders.

  • Corporate Philanthropy

    Increasing Impact, Enhancing Value: A Practitioner’s Guide to Leading Corporate Philanthropy, 2012, Council on Foundations. Offers original field research and a new platform for corporate philanthropy, and provides clear and practical paths forward for the future of the field and the role of corporate foundations.

  • Philanthropic Organizations


    Imagine Canada
    An organization serving charities in Canada. Provides a print and on-line directory to foundations for a fee. Provides other information and resources to charitable organizations.

    Charity Focus
    A searchable database of all of Canada’s registered charities offered by Imagine Canada.

    Community Foundations of Canada
    The national association for community foundations across Canada.

    The Council for Business and the Arts in Canada
    Founded in 1974 by a group of leading business CEOs, The Council for Business and the Arts in Canada (CBAC) is the national association of business leaders who support the arts.

    The Conference Board of Canada
    The Governance and Social Responsibility program addresses issues related to corporate social responsibility.


    Exponent Philanthropy
    ASF’s mission is to provide information and assistance related to quality philanthropy to those offices having five or fewer persons and a portfolio that includes all aspects of foundation work.

    The Center for Effective Philanthropy
    CEP is a research and consulting firm that provides foundations and other philanthropic funders with comparative data to enable higher performance.

    Council on Foundations
    A national member association of foundations. Provides information on conferences and seminars, and reports on philanthropy.

    Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers
    A national network of local leaders and organizations that support effective charitable giving.

    Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    Understanding that grantmakers are successful only to the extent that their grantees achieve meaningful results, GEO promotes strategies and practices that contribute to grantee success.

    The Foundation Center
    Founded in 1956, the Center is the leading authority in the US on institutional philanthropy and is dedicated to serving grantseekers, grantmakers, researchers, policymakers, the media, and the general public.

    A searchable database of U.S. charities and other charity related information.

    National Centre for Family Philanthropy
    This center provides family foundations with access to specialty donor advisors and features a Family Philanthropy Online Knowledge Center, a collection of over 700 downloadable articles.

    The Philanthropic Initiative
    A not-for-profit consulting group affiliated with the Boston Foundation that provides philanthropic consulting and management services to individuals and foundations.


    Association of Charitable Foundations
    A national member association that promotes the effectiveness of U.K. grant-making trusts. Provides information about philanthropy in the U.K. and some resources.

    The European Foundation Centre
    An association that promotes foundations and corporate funders in the New Europe. Site provides information on European funders and conferences.

    Philanthropy Australia
    An association providing information and support to Australia’s charities.

    Philanthropy New Zealand
    A membership association including NZ grantmaking organizations, trusts and foundations.

    Worldwide Initiatives for Grantmaker Support. A global network of more than 90 membership associations serving grantmakers and support organizations serving philanthropy.

  • Blogs and Links


    Philanthropy 2173: Provocations on the Future of Philanthropy, a blog by Lucy Bernholz, discusses the truth, merits and limitations of long-term philanthropy.

    White Courtesy Telephone’s posts include perspectives on learning, education and training in the field of philanthropy.

    Philantopic is a blog of Opinion and Commentary from The Philanthropy News Digest

    Lucy Bernholz’s blog Philanthropy 2173: The Business of Giving shares her opinions about the long-term vision of philanthropy.

    The Center for Effective Philanthropy Blog offers better data, better decisions, better philanthropy.

    Transparency Talk, by the Foundation Center, highlights strategies, findings, and best practices on the web and in foundations–illuminating the importance of having “glass pockets.”

    Grants Managers Network’s GMNsight is a professional journal written for and by the members of Grants Managers Network.

    GrantCraft’s Blog offers short perspectives on strategies and issues related to philanthropy.

    Stanford Social Innovation Review Blog offers the latest stories on social innovation, published each weekday

    The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation’s Blog Work in Progress is a blog dedicated to openness, conversations, and ideas.

    www.PhilanthroFiles.org from Exponent Philanthropy is a blog for foundations with few or no staff.


    The Philanthropist/Le Philanthrope, a free online journal that publishes many useful articles on philanthropy and the voluntary sector in Canada.

President’s Blog

Philanthropy and the Fourth Industrial Revolution

From the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, PFC President Hilary Pearson shares her thoughts on why understanding the opportunities and risks of the fourth industrial revolution is critical to the success of philanthropy in the near future.

January 31, 20180

Canadian Philanthropy: The Year Ahead

In her latest blog piece, PFC president, Hilary Pearson, makes bold and optimistic predictions for philanthropy for the year ahead.

January 16, 20181

Where Next with Listening?

In her latest blog piece, PFC president, Hilary Pearson, reflects further upon how funders can put listening to action and highlights some holiday reading.

December 11, 20170

Listen. Learn. Act: Further Reflections on Philanthropic Practice

In her latest blog piece, PFC president, Hilary Pearson, reflects further upon the “community of practice” that has developed over the years through various PFC Fall events.

November 15, 20170

Listen. Learn. Act.

In her latest blog piece, PFC President, Hilary Pearson, highlights some of the lessons learned about listening and learning effectively as funders that were shared during the 2017 PFC Symposium in Montreal on October 17 and 18.

October 24, 20170

2017: The Year We Talk About Listening and Belonging?

Despite Canada’s favourable global attention in 2017, PFC President, Hilary Pearson, questions if our supposed social harmony is as harmonious as all that and what is organized philanthropy’s role in moderating the pressures and conflicts brought about by urbanization and immigration, in her latest blog post?

September 18, 20170

Thoroughly Modern Charities

What might that look like if Canadian charities and charitable funders were regulated as modern organizations. PFC President, Hilary Pearson contemplates such a world in her latest blog post and outlines the activities that are underway to bring it about.

August 14, 20172

Summer 2017: Time To Read!

As you head off for summer holidays, or simply clear your desks for a little catch up reading, PFC President Hilary Person offers some suggestions for summer reading on issues and topics in philanthropy.

July 4, 20170

Matching Our Dance Steps: Philanthropy and Government

Can foundations be good dance partners for government and vice-versa? Hilary Pearson outlines the ups and down of partnerships between philanthropy and government and highlights some leassons learned.

June 7, 20170

Rethinking Philanthropic Strategy: An Innovative Voice

Hilary Pearson outlines the main points of her discussion with unconventional thinker and President of the Heron Foundation, Clara Miller and her view that foundations need to boldly redefine themselves as providers of capital for public benefit as opposed to grantmakers.

May 3, 20170

Uncertainty and Proximity: A Challenge for Philanthropy

PFC President, Hilary Pearson, summarizes the inspiring opening remarks by Grant Oliphant, CEO of the Heinz Endowments in Pittsburgh at the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) conference in Boston.

April 11, 20170
Wings Forum 2017 Logo

Raising Philanthropy’s Voice

PFC President, Hilary Pearson, shares how, in these times, philanthropists are both compelled by moral values and enabled by financial resources to raise our voices more loudly in support of peace and social trust.

February 28, 20170

The Two-Way Street

Listening is a two way street. How does philanthropy ensure we are listening to the voices of various communities and asking the right questions to achieve impact with our funding programs?

February 9, 20171

What’s Trending in Canadian Philanthropy?

PFC President, Hilary Pearson, compares five U.S. philanthropic trends to trends we might see in Canada and a few that we don’t (yet).

January 10, 20170

Looking Back, Looking Forward

At the end of this very eventful year, it’s a good time to look back and also to look forward, since one without the other risks either too much disappointment or too much irrational hope!

December 7, 20160

The Room Where It Happened

After a high-energy and thought-provoking two days , PFC president, Hilary Pearson, shares her personal take-aways from the PFC biennial conference in Vancouver.

November 8, 20160

An Agenda for Canadian Philanthropy

Every two years, PFC brings together Canadian philanthropic funders from across the country for two days of exchange. And what are our hopes for this year’s gathering? We hope, ambitiously, to set directions for Canadian philanthropy, to create an “agenda” of sorts through our program and through the speakers and topics that we bring together.

September 27, 20162

Reflections on “More Than Money” Grantmaking

The discussion about what makes philanthropy more effective goes beyond what grantmakers offer grantees to what grantees can offer their funders.

September 7, 20160

Effective Conversations….Effective Philanthropy?

Would more honest conversations about equity and race lead to more effective philanthropy? PFC President, Hilary Pearson, explores this question in her July blog post.

July 7, 20160

First You Build Your Scaffold…

Is there a case for funding infrastructure organizations supporting the charitable sector in Canada?

June 13, 20160

New Thinking About Philanthropy and Inequality

There is much talk about inequality, but how much do we know about its drivers? We know philanthropy can’t solve the problem of inequality, but it can do what other can’t.

May 12, 20164

Are Foundations Forever?

Are foundations forever, like those famous diamonds? This necessary discussion about philanthropy, time and strategy is worth paying attention to, for the questions it raises about what really makes a difference and to whom, as well as what one would call the “moral” obligations of charitable funders.

April 7, 20162

Opening a Window on Canadian Philanthropy – Part 2

With a new CEP report released this week surveying hundreds of foundation CEOs about transparency, PFC weighs in on missed opportunities and optimism for the future.

February 29, 20160

Opening a Window on Canadian Philanthropy

How clearly can we see into the work of Canadian philanthropy? Do we have open reporting and sharing of knowledge among Canadian foundations? The answers, so far, are not much and no. But there are signs that things may change in Canada.

February 8, 20160

Hopes (Not Predictions) for 2016

As we begin the new year, Hilary Pearson, PFC President, joins others who speculate on trends in philanthropy and nonprofits, focusing on the opportunities and highlighting hopes not predictions for 2016.

January 5, 20160

Creating A Civic Infrastructure

The last in a series on philanthropy and civic engagement. What is philanthropy’s role in addressing global and local complex issue? There are many possible answers. But there is agreement that to address these difficult problems will take many minds working together and a democratic engagement of many within communities. It may be time for philanthropy to rethink its theory of change when it comes to democracy…

December 8, 20151

Public Policy and Private Funders: Building a Bridge?

The third in a series on philanthropy and civic engagement. Do private funders need to pay attention to the public world of policy makers and government officials? Many foundations shared examples of why public policy matters to private funders at the recent PFC Symposium in Toronto on the theme of building bridges between public and private funders.

November 18, 20150

Advocacy: An Underestimated Tool?

The second in a series on philanthropy and civic engagement. Do advocacy and charity go together in the same sentence? What should we think about the validity of advocacy as a strategy in a charity’s box of strategic tools? And should charitable grantmakers be taking another look at their missions with the option of advocacy in mind?

October 6, 20150

A Case for Voice: Foundations on the Stage

The first in a series on philanthropy and civic engagement. Most grantmaking foundations in Canada would describe themselves as players behind the scenes… they back other charities to do their important frontline work.

September 8, 20150

Summer 2015 Reading for Philanthropists

As you head off for summer holidays, or simply clear your desks for a little catch up reading on philanthropy issues and topics that you have not had time for in the busy season, I offer some timely suggestions for summer philanthropy reading. Enjoy the break!

July 8, 20150

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