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Philanthropy Framework Aims to Spur More Meaningful, Effective Social Change

March 12, 2019

Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors Engages 50+ Foundation Partners to Build a New Framework for Optimizing Institutional Effectiveness and Impact

New York, NY – March 12, 2019 – In a climate where the intentions, assets and practice of philanthropy continue to transform at a rapid pace, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA) today published The Philanthropy Framework, a tool for analysis and planning to guide emerging and established philanthropies to better align resources for maximum impact.

Created with input from leaders from more than 50 foundations worldwide (see the complete list below), the Philanthropy Framework seeks to address fundamental changes in philanthropy and the world such as generational shifts in attitudes, massive wealth creation, diversity of capital, new models for impact, and new operating environments among others.

“Emerging models of philanthropy in the last 20 years have transformed the traditional ways in which funders – whether they’re individuals, families, corporations or foundations – accomplish their goals,  approach organizational design,  and manage key resources,” said Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors CEO Melissa A. Berman. “We worked with many of the largest, most thoughtful and strategic global philanthropists to develop a practical, useful guide to enable existing, new and next generation philanthropists to create more meaningful social impact. We are pleased to make the outcomes of this thinking available to others.”

From aligning trustees, board and staff around core concepts and values, to assessing ideal philanthropic structures, to considering how best to deploy resources, the Framework gives philanthropies new tools for analyzing how to make decisions to evolve with changing times. It lays out three core elements for philanthropists to consider when determining how to maximize their impact:

  • Charter, the organization’s scope, form of governance, and decision-making protocol;
  • Social Compact, its implicit or explicit agreement with society about the value it will create; and
  • Operating Model, the approach to the resources, structures and systems needed to implement strategy.

The Framework in Action

Different examples of these elements in action are illustrated through the work of contributors such as the Wellcome Trust, Ford Foundation, The S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, The California Endowment, Kresge Foundation, Lumina Foundation, the Episcopal Health Foundation and others.

Among the contributor case studies is a look at Newman’s Own Foundation, an independent, private foundation formed in 2005 by Paul Newman to maintain his commitment to philanthropy. The Foundation is the sole owner of Newman’s Own, Inc., the food and beverage company, and is funded entirely through the net profits and royalties generated from the sale of Newman’s Own products. It does not have an endowment, raise funds or accept donations. The Foundation has a unique relationship with public consumers through its stated promise to donate 100 percent of profits generated by the Newman’s Own company and any associated royalties to charity, and maintains the informal and adaptive style of Paul Newman in its operations and management.

Newman’s Own Foundation’s core capabilities reflect the balance between adaptability and structure that are at the heart of the organization’s culture. Decision-making responsibility is distributed across the organization to give staff leaders autonomy and flexibility, while maintaining strategic focus through the framework of the four focus areas and the Foundation’s guiding principles.

Managing Director Kelly Giordano describes the foundation’s approach as flexible within a planned framework. While the foundation makes a plan each year to meet its projected grantmaking budget, it also maintains the spontaneity that Paul Newman traditionally used to make decisions, remaining flexible and open to new opportunities for impact. With a lean team of seven people working on the foundation’s grantmaking (including the President and CEO), fluidity and creative thinking are highly valued.

For other examples of philanthropy contributions and illustrations of the Framework in action, check out The Philanthropy Framework here.

We are grateful to the following organizations for their support of this work:

Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

The Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

The Annie E. Casey Foundation

Arcadia Fund

Arcus Foundation

Barr Foundation


The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Robert Bosch Foundation

The California Endowment

The California Wellness Foundation

Children’s Investment Fund Foundation

Conrad. N. Hilton Foundation

David and Lucile Packard Foundation

Episcopal Health Foundation

Esmee Fairbairn

The F.B. Heron Foundation

Fondation Daniel & Nina Carasso

Fondazione Cariplo

Fondazione CRT

Ford Foundation

Fundacao Calouste Gulbenkian

Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

Hewlett Foundation

Houston Endowment

John Templeton Foundation

The Kresge Foundation

Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland

Lumina Foundation

John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Margaret A. Cargill Foundation

Mercator Foundation

Nathan Cummings Foundation

Newman’s Own Foundation

NoVo Foundation

Oak Foundation


Rasmuson Foundation


Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Rockefeller Brothers Fund

The Rockefeller Foundation

S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation

Schusterman Foundation

Simons Foundation

Surdna Foundation

TIAA-CREF Institute

The Tiffany & Co. Foundation

Wallace Foundation

Wellcome Trust

William Grant Foundation


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