Dr. Jason Franklin on the Many Faces of Philanthropy

“We are now living in a moment in American history where wealth is more concentrated than ever before, and one of the results of that is the rise of the mega-donor- the greater concentration of more philanthropic dollars in the hands of millionaires and billionaires. And that is both a cause for excitement and concern.” -Dr. Jason Franklin

About This Episode

Philanthropist, Author and Researcher, Dr. Jason Franklin, talks about the role of philanthropy in transforming communities. In his work, Jason is focused on reframing conversations and actions about how communities take care of the people that occupy them. From “outrage giving” to donating time, he talks about the many ways and reasons that people give. Jason’s deep understanding of philanthropy and loyal support of underserved communities leads to a candid conversation that is analytical and insightful.


Dr. Jason Franklin is the first holder of the W. K. Kellogg Community Philanthropy Chair. He previously served as the Executive Director of Boulder Giving, which he led through five years of major growth after Melinda Gates accredited them as an inspiration for the Billionaire Giving Pledge. During his tenure, he helped Boulder Giving refine its focus on promoting philanthropy for social, racial, economic and environmental justice, and dramatically expanded its reach including launching its first programming outside the U.S. Jason has delivered more than 150 workshops and speeches about philanthropy, generosity and social change and oversaw the launch of new efforts to inspire and support donors to give, including giving communities.org and Give Out Day, which is a national day of giving for the LGBTQ community.

In his words…

“My vision for community philanthropy is one where we build the practices and the vehicles of giving that keep us connected to each other and strengthen our connections. The act of giving collectively can be an act of creating community.”

“One of the biggest changes we’ve seen in the last year since the start of the Trump Administration has been a wave of ‘outrage giving’ by people who are upset and angered by the actions that this administration has taken…I think the real question mark is what is that going to translate into. There’s an outrage gift that you make when a particular post goes viral or a speech is made or a policy proposal is released, and people respond. The translation is how you go from outrage giving to collective action. That’s the challenge for community groups all over the country who are having this flood of new dollars and new interest. Hundreds of thousands of people turning out to become activities- millions marching in the women’s marches- a powerful indicator of research and energy in so many of our communities. And now we’ve got to build the capacity for organizations to keep people engaged to channel the outrage into action, before people walk away.”

“I think the challenge for many local community non-profits is that the solutions that are being proposed and the innovations that are being developed are radical transformation, rather than incremental innovation. The second piece around innovation is not only look at the incremental, but also invite boards and staffs of different organizations to take a step back and ask, ‘Are they resisting innovation because of change or because they don’t believe the innovation will work’?”

“Many institutional funders are actually proactively looking and desiring the groups they support to come to them with ideas around innovation- to come to them with ideas around evolution or experimentation. Opening those conversations can be tricky. You can’t simply go from a once-a-year ‘here’s our proposal, please give us a renewal,’ to ‘we’d like to have deep conversation about how we’re re-imaging our entire business model.’ You actually have to build a relationship with your funders to then be able to have conversations that are based on the trusting relationship.”

“The non-profit world is racing to catch up with the realities of a global environment. And, whether that means rising demands for translation of your work in a local community, because you’re now serving 18 different immigrant communities who all have different language needs, or whether it means engaging in art exchanges around the globe to foster a different type of artistic expression, the impacts of a global society are varied but all very real in the work of the non-profit sector.”

Questions Answered on this Episode

What is your definition of philanthropy?

what do you think inspires people to give?

What is your vision for community philanthropy?

Have you seen any major changes in community philanthropy since our President took office last year?

I love the term “outrage giving”. Do you see that happening inter-generationally or is it just with particular age groups?

In philanthropy in general, in its current state, do you think that we are in position to solve our most pressing issues?

Tell me what trends do you think we should be bracing for in philanthropy or excited about in philanthropy.

How do we create more diversity and inclusion in the philanthropy sector?