Organizational Profile

Center for High Impact Philanthropy, University of Pennsylvania


The Center for High Impact Philanthropy is a nonprofit and university-based center focused on improving the social impact of philanthropic activities. Our work includes writing, teaching and programming for individual donors, institutional funders and philanthropic intermediaries.

Our story: Providing actionable and evidence-based guidance

Established in the spring of 2006 by the dean of the School of Social Policy & Practice and a small group of anonymous Wharton alumni, the Center provides independent analysis, education and other decision-making tools for donors concerned with maximizing the social impact of their funds.

To meet our goal of providing smart, practical guidance to donors who care about impact, we synthesize the best available information from three domains: research, informed opinion and field experience. We believe the most promising opportunities exist where the recommendations of these three domains overlap.

Our target: Individual donors and their advisors

In the U.S. alone, nearly $291 billion dollars comprise the U.S. philanthropic capital market. Individual donors represent the vast majority of that sum—73%, or $212 billion. Additionally, 71%, or $37.5 billion of all philanthropic giving from developed to developing countries comes from American donors. High net worth individual donors are also more likely to give a larger percentage of their incomes to nonprofits.

Although we target this strategic group, our work has helped many others—non-high net worth individuals, institutional funders and policymakers—understand how their funds can make a greater difference in the lives of others.

Our focus: impact

While there is an increasing number of organizations supplying information and advising services to philanthropists, our approach is uniquely guided by our focus on social impact and the necessity to be both actionable and evidence-based. We start by asking and answering a series of questions:

  • Is the change/impact meaningful?
  • What do we know works? What doesn’t?
  • How much does change/impact cost?
  • What organizations are best positioned to deliver this change/impact?

Contact Information:
Legal Status:

Academic Institution

Target Audience: Donors, Advisors

Services Provided: Resources, Training

Geographic Scope: Local, State, National, Global

Target Organizations: Donor advised, Family foundation

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