Invite the Author

The Philanthropy Roundtable’s Karl Zinsmeister (former White House domestic policy adviser) delivers scores of intriguing talks every year on America’s bursting, bubbling practice of philanthropy. 

Karl points out how charitable giving touches far more sectors of society than is commonly realized. He profiles philanthropy’s fascinating record in reforming culture, and tells gripping stories about some of philanthropy’s greatest achievements and greatest donors. He traces philanthropy’s connections to religion, to business success, to different geographic regions, to particular kinds of citizens. 

Karl explains how unusual philanthropy is in the U.S. compared to other nations, and contrasts charitable and voluntary action with government action. Audiences are often surprised by his facts on small givers vs. major givers, and fascinated by his tales of how philanthropy upends fields like science and medical research, education reform, and nature conservation. He brings to life the major statistics on giving, and is able to explain the roles of anonymity, privacy, passion, and individual vision in donating.

Karl’s most acclaimed speech is his lively half-hour summary of highlights and lessons from The Almanac of American Philanthropy—his creation which has rapidly become the “bible” of this field. He sketches the unappreciated scope of charitable giving, and argues that without it, there would be no America as we know it. Private action to solve public problems is one of the practices that most distinguishes the U.S. from other countries, and it plays a crucial role in keeping our communities healthy and our economy burgeoning. 

All of these presentations include rich photography, captivating biographies, and fresh, powerful arguments. To schedule a talk by Karl on philanthropy, civil society, and voluntary action in America, email Ashley May at


See Karl in Action

How Philanthropy Fuels America
The City Club of Cleveland

A New Landscape of Giving: Power, Policy, and Philanthropy
The Carnegie Corporation (panelist)

The "Anti-Hate" Group That Is a Hate Group
Prager University