Key Points

This article outlines how strategic philanthropy can align its mission with the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by describing the experience of the most important foundation of banking origin in Italy. Fondazione Compagnia di San Paolo marked a milestone in 2020 in aligning with the Agenda, applying the Sustainable Development Goals as a rigorous, internationally shared methodological framework and restructuring its operations to focus on three programmatic efforts — Planet, People, and Culture — aligned with those goals.

To complete our examination of this transformation, we conducted a benchmark analysis involving nine case studies of foundations in Europe and the United States to identify the level of engagement and convergence of each with the 2030 Agenda framework.

This article begins with an introduction to the topic of sustainability in the philanthropic sector, which is followed by a case study of the Compagnia di San Paolo’s path to adoption of the framework. It then measures the impact of its activities through quantitative indicators, highlighting the foundation’s transformation, and concludes with a comparison between Compagnia di San Paolo’s approaches and some international best practices to provide a better understanding of our long-term positioning in the international context.

Open Access