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Philanthropy

Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen’s Gift to Philanthropy

Giving 2.0 Project U offers a treasure trove of resources for teachers and students of philanthropy.

Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen’s Giving 2.0 Project U, highlighted this week at the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society’s Philanthropy Educators Symposium, represents a tremendous gift to the increasing number of teachers and students of philanthropy. Although her 2011 New York Times bestselling book, Giving 2.0, is lucid and self-contained, Laura’s new discussion guide, learning notes, and syllabi will be a tremendous resource for those teaching from the book. But I want to focus here on the treasure trove of cases that Laura has developed over the years and their accompanying teaching notes.

I write as a new and enthusiastic user of cases in courses on impact investing and performance management at the Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB). Cases do not substitute for serious books and articles by scholars and practitioners, nor on-the-ground experience. But cases can provide a range of insights from actual practice far beyond what any student could learn in a single class. There are many cases on conventional business topics—with Harvard Business School being the dominant publisher. But there are precious few for courses in philanthropy. Here, the Stanford GSB excels, in large measure because of Laura’s contributions during the past dozen years.

Although I do not teach philanthropy at Stanford—I couldn’t possibly compete with Laura—I will be teaching a course on the subject at the National University of Singapore later this summer. In preparation, I’ve perused her cases to see what I might use. Here are just some of the valuable items I’ve found:

A number of cases examine the various institutional forms of practice: “Cisco Corporate Philanthropy” and “Community Foundation Silicon Valley” introduce two major vehicles of philanthropy. “Altman Foundation” examines the internal dynamics of a family foundation, “Skoll Foundation” introduces an ambitious new foundation dedicated to the field of social entrepreneurship, and “SV2: Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund” examines a donor collaborative, which Laura herself founded in 1998.

Other cases look at foundations’ various strategies for solving complex social problems. The “William and Flora Hewlett Foundation” introduces the practice of strategic philanthropy by a large foundation and studies its not entirely successful effort to regulate the use of off-road vehicles on public lands. The “Brett Family Foundation” and “McKay Foundation” cases also examine policy change as a philanthropic strategy. “Thomas and Stacey Siebel Foundation and The Meth Project” describes a successful campaign to change individual behavior. “Broad Education Foundation” illustrates the challenges of improving the governance and management of public school systems—and the difficulties of assessing the success of these strategies. “Robert Wood Johnson Foundation” examines the strategic deployment of knowledge management and communication.

Several items are not cases, as such, but descriptions of essential concepts of contemporary philanthropy. “Blended Value” analyzes the various ways that foundations can deploy their various assets in service of their missions. The “2004 Venture Philanthropy Summit Overview” and “2006 Program-Related Investments Conference Summary” describe some increasingly important approaches to foundation funding of social enterprises. “Introduction to Social Return on Investment” uses REDF’s job programs to illustrate philanthropic choices based on a social return on investment (SROI) model. And Laura continues to examine the application of these concepts in “Annie E. Casey Foundation” and “Robin Hood,” respectively studying foundations committed to using program-related investments and to grantmaking based on SROI.

Other cases examine the relationships among funders and between funders and grantees. “September 11 Fund” looks at a collaboration between the New York Community Trust and United Way of New York. In “Sand Hill Foundation,” a long-time funder of a California Planned Parenthood’s Teen Success Program tries to measure the grantee’s success. This case demonstrates not only the challenges of performance measurement, but also the dynamics of the relationship between funder and grantee.

I have not described all of Laura’s cases, but this is a large enough sample to give you a sense of why someone teaching in the field may feel like a kid in the candy store.

Laura’s cases and teaching notes were created under the auspices of the Stanford GSB, where she has been an inspiring teacher for many years. They are copyrighted by Stanford, which, like other universities, typically charges for their adoption. In the spirit of philanthropy, Stanford GSB has made these cases and Laura’s accompanying teaching notes available for free, online—a significant gift to educators, students, and the social sector. Laura also has written a series of Giving 2.0 “activity guides” to help instructors teach the cases in a way that advances students’ critical thinking and creative application of core theories and frameworks. She has made these freely available for non-commercial use under Creative Commons Licenses, as she has the materials to accompany Giving 2.0, mentioned above. In this way, Laura practices what she teaches: philanthropy for the greatest benefit of society. One couldn’t ask for more.

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