The Philanthropy Framework

A Framework for Optimizing Institutional Effectiveness and Impact


The Philanthropy Framework is a Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors tool to help emerging and established philanthropies 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 publication 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.”

Access The Philanthropy Framework here.

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.

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 highlighted in case studies in The Philanthropy Framework publication, found here.

Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors has also created a freely accessible online tool for philanthropies to gain a better understanding of their own Philanthropy Framework, available here.

We are grateful to the following organizations for their support in developing The Philanthropy Framework:

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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