Excellence in Philanthropy

Interview with Bruce Kovner

Trading titan Bruce Kovner has focused his philanthropy on free-market think tanks, arts (especially music organizations), and school-reform advocacy. 

Charity Science Research 2, Death 0

Johns Hopkins ­University scientist Jonathan Ling wanted to set the record straight. He wanted to know whether the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which raised $115 million for disease research in six weeks back in 2014 (and then tens of millions more in repeat donations since), actually accomplished anything.

Almanac of American Philanthropy video preview

We know that philanthropy in America is a bursting, bubbling impulse that has vital effects on almost every sector of our society. In this lively talk, widely published author Karl Zinsmeister goes even further, arguing that without philanthropy there would be no America as we know it—and explaining why.

Higher Ed, Lower Costs

An e-learning entrepreneur brings cut-rate practical degrees to far-flung corners of the world. 

Asking Tough Questions

The William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership honors David Weekley: homebuilder, charity-grower, and hard-nosed inquisitor

Something Out of Nothing

It is said that necessity is the mother of invention. And invention is the father of philanthropy, because it creates the wealth that enables great generosity. Now a dazzling new book uncovers philanthropy’s grandparentage.

Racing Against Cancer

Jockey Victor Espinoza netted about $80,000 when his mount American Pharoah swept the ­Triple Crown of horseracing this year. But Espinoza handed his historic winnings, in their entirety, away to charity. 

From Big Success to Local Succor

How one donor found satisfaction in helping a unique community. 

Nonprofit Spotlight: Birch Community Services

Birch Community Services gives away food and asks for life-change in return. 

Books in Brief

The Paradox of Generosity presents data showing that givers are kinder to their neighbors, find themselves in better health, report having a strong life purpose, and generally describe themselves as “very happy.”

Donors Who Come to the Aid of Their Country

National defense may seem like the last place philanthropy could have a role. Here’s some little-known history to make you think again.

Juma Ventures

Combining work, school, and play with sports-stadium jobs that earn college tuition. 

Stronger Together

Donors are increasingly using expert intermediaries to bundle and target their giving.

Alms Alchemy

The National Christian Foundation’s ability to turn unusual contributions to gold is creating a new trove of generosity.

Micro Lending, Major Impact

How the maker of SweetTARTS is combining friendship and capital in one tangy dose.

More Than Just Academics

Some might view the decline of Catholic schools as a Catholic problem. In reality it is an urban education problem that should concern everyone. Catholic schools have power and potential beyond book learning.

A New Way to Serve

Venture for America is bringing entrepreneurial vim and vigor to unexpected corners of our country.

Stepping into a Breach

Hundreds of migrants attempting to enter Europe have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea when the inflatable dinghies they were packed into by unscrupulous smugglers sunk in storms. Sadly, this happens all the time.

Madison Avenue Mercies

The virtues of advertising, overhead, and other wicked ways of doing good.

Business Marries Charity

The hopes and hazards of bringing market mechanisms to philanthropy.

The Slow Boat to Utopia

Ten years in, the ballyhooed Millennium Villages Project is mostly a bust. In Nina Munk’s book The Idealist, Columbia University economist and celebrity academic Jeffrey Sachs, who made a splash with his plan to engineer the end of poverty as we know it, is an ambivalent figure.

Horizon Communities in Prisons

Inmates change their lives with great works of literature. 

Heartland Art

A new exhibit at Alice Walton's Crystal Bridges Museum showcases the full range of American artistry. 

Save the Pawns

Morally neutral approaches to poverty do not exist,” William Easterly writes in his latest book, The Tyranny of Experts. “Any approach to development will either respect the rights of the poor or it will violate them.” Too many aid agencies treat people in developing countries like chess pieces. 

Interview with Steve Green

The Hobby Lobby president describes his forthcoming Museum of the Bible. 

The Dinosaur Discoverer

How a misfit revolutionized paleontology—with a big boost from philanthropy. 

A Tribute to Life

With major support from Tad Taube, the Polin Museum honors a millennium of Jewish history. 

Major Achievements in Public-Policy Reform

Donating money to modify public thinking and government policy has now taken its place next to service-centered giving as a constructive branch of philanthropy. In this Almanac of American Philanthropy list we examine major achievements in shaping public policy. 

Laying Away Treasure

Many Americans were charmed when, a couple weeks before Christmas, an anonymous lady walked into a Toys R Us store in Bellingham, Massachusetts, and paid off the remaining layaway balances of 150 families.

Patriots and Papers

Philanthropists fulfill George Washington's dying wish and build a Presidential library at his Mount Vernon home.

President’s Note

Restoring the American Dream in 2015—For over three centuries, America has provided more opportunity to more people than any other country in the history of the world. That great tradition is now in danger.

The Power of Ownership

Fighting poverty from the ground up. 

Museums Across America

A creative cornucopia of galleries from math to space to baseball is brought to the public by the generosity of donors. 

College Endowment Disparities

A recent study by the Sutton Trust reveals that university endowments in the U.K. badly lag U.S. counterparts, and that the fundraising gap is widening. Harvard’s endowment alone is more than the total of all U.K. universities combined. 

Personal Giving

An anonymous animal lover donated $800,000 to Zoo Miami during his lifetime. "Two of the dearest" philanthropists in south Florida, once anonymous, now have their story told. 

Q & A with a Mad Woman

An interview with advertiser extraordinaire turned philanthropic organizer Myra Daniels. 

Mutual Aid for Christians in Iraq

Iraq's second largest city is home to many minorities, including hundreds of thousands of Assyrian Christians. About 200,000 Assyrians have now fled their homes. Amidst crisis in Mosul, a small mutual-aid group is offering lifesaving help.

Interview with Howard Dahl

The founder of Amity Technology discusses his giving to rehabilitate the former Soviet Union and assesses Ukraine.

Champion Givers

A 15-year update on the winners of the William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership. 

Beethoven in the Barrio

The Youth Orchestra of the Americas is bringing symphonic beauty to new audience, thanks to Hilda Ochoa-Brillembourg

Drug Donors

While some philanthropists fought for decades to legalize marijuana, others are gearing up to address the undesirable consequences. 

Nature Philanthropy, Part 4

The final piece of our Nature Philanthropy journey discovers urban respites and natural waters.

Chopping Textbook Costs

College textbooks are notoriously expensive, but a two-year-old nonprofit is hoping to change that. OpenStax College's goal is to offer texts for the nation’s 25 most-attended college courses—for free. 

Eyes on Ospreys

Twenty years ago, D.C.'s Anacostia River had few fish and no ospreys—the big, yellow-eyed fishing birds that often thrill waterside observers. But thanks to local D.C. philanthropy the ospreys are returning to the area, and we're learning more about them. 

Nonprofit Spotlight: Living Lands & Waters

An award-winning nonprofit leader is hauling junk out of our grimiest rivers.

Gas Heat

A small foundation uses focused academic, media, and activist grants to redirect a policy debate.

Philanthropy’s Toehold in China

Though China is home to an estimated 358 billionaires, exactly none have signed the Giving Pledge. But views on charity in China may be evolving.

Nature Philanthropy

When you think of parks, whether Yosemite or your corner playground, you probably think of them as quintessentially public institutions—as the Ken Burns documentary puts it, “America’s best idea.” And while parks are indeed public institutions, a great many owe their existence, growth, and endurance to the generosity of creative donors.

Interview with Terry and Mary Kohler

The donor couple discusses rescuing cranes and swans, counseling couples, painting Wisconsin red, and more.

New Balance

Training the next generation of conservative journalists. 


The Almanac
of American

A compendium of the Great Donors, Great Achievements, Great Ideas, and Latest Facts on private giving in the U.S.