Key Points

· “Strategic philanthropy” has become a dominant theme among foundations in the past few decades.

· While many foundations have developed strategic plans, few have made the internal changes necessary to actually behave strategically.

· Four challenges to strategic philanthropy are identified, including strategies developed in isolation from grantees that execute them and misaligned foundation structures, processes, and cultures that do not support strategic endeavors.

· In order to get beyond the veneer of strategic philanthropy, foundation leaders need to be clearer about their own role in creating change, develop the strategic capacities to do so, and then apply those capacities, learn from them, and improve them over time.

Open Access