Kathleen Buechel

Message from the Director

Technology and communication have opened the aperture on philanthropy. Once thought to be the purview of the privileged few, we’ve come to understand philanthropy as a more universal activity practiced in every recorded century, culture and community. Definitions vary over time and cultures, but the impulse to voluntarily contribute private resources for public good offers a universal framework. With this lens, GSPIA’s Philanthropy Forum invites university colleagues, community members and professional practitioners to explore together this growing local and global activity.

On this website and through our many program offerings, GSPIA’s Philanthropy Forum seeks to offer perspectives on effective philanthropic practice and the quest for impact. The Forum reaches across campus and out into the world of philanthropic practice to enhance knowledge. Our goal is to share understanding about the vision, values and varied designs that animate philanthropy. We strive to explore effectiveness, accountability, legitimacy and the intersection of private philanthropy, public good, authorizing policy and civil society.

The following are just a few ways that we do this:

  • Our speaker series on The Future of Philanthropy in Uncertain Times adds dimensions to these topics as though leaders and leading-edge practitioners offer insights about their own expansion of philanthropy’s toolkit. We also invite newer philanthropists to share their career path and insights about the work of foundations and giving officers.
  • The spring graduate seminar, Matching Money with Mission, enables students to become grant-making boards, award actual grants to nonprofits and interact with guest speakers while analyzing philanthropy’s rich literature. The 15-week course offers a unique opportunity for students to put theory into practice.
  • The Pittsburgh Philanthropy Project: We see Pittsburgh as a learning laboratory about philanthropy’s aspirations and reach over time. Many successful milestones in the use of philanthropic capital occurred here. We’re at work to analyze and reveal those stories. But even when philanthropists’ efforts fell short or failed, the arc of this activity is equally instructive. The Pittsburgh Philanthropy Project seeks to capture this place-based but universal body of knowledge through a series of activities detailed on this website.

The Forum is particularly fortunate to be centered in a strong public policy school like GSPIA.  Philanthropy often works at the intersection of public policy and public good.  We’re especially well positioned here to bring practitioners, policy makers and academics together. GSPIA’s local and global connections further enhance the scope of our inquiry and likely synergies, since philanthropy is both a local and worldwide phenomenon.

We often partner with local or campus-based organizations to extend the opportunities for meaningful exchange. For example, collaborations with the Graduate School of Public Health’s Global Health Center, the Swanson School of Engineering and the Katz School of Business’ International MBA program enabled us to welcome Jacqueline Novogratz to the Forum. In spring 2011 we worked with Global Links to bring Gara LaMarche of Atlantic Philanthropies to Pittsburgh. Earlier collaborations have involved the Women and Girls Foundation and Grantmakers of Western Pennsylvania. Our ongoing association with the Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership enabled the Forum to get started and continues to deepen our outreach and student activity.

Our goals are ambitious at GSPIA’s Philanthropy Forum.  Our modes of inquiry are deliberately diverse. Above all, we hope to contribute to individual and collective learning about this dynamic field. We invite you to join this odyssey of educational and practice-based inquiry through our activities.

Kathleen Buechel Bio