Dr. Susan PhillipsBy Dr. Susan Phillips.

Smith, Schulich, Ivey, Sauder, Molson, Sobey… Is there a business school in Canada that hasn’t received major support and been named after a generous donor who recognized the importance of advancing business education and research?

Like business, philanthropy is a major force in Canadian society. But it’s one that is often overlooked. With over $123 billion in assets, Canadian foundations have the potential to advance systems change and help address the major issues of our time. Individual philanthropists increasingly look for ways to achieve greater impact with their giving and volunteering. And yet, to paraphrase the industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, ‘how to do genuine good and not mischief by the giving of money is difficult.’

As with the field of business, the field of philanthropy requires expertise, professionalization, R&D, evidence-based strategies, and informed public policy. In promoting a stronger infrastructure for the philanthropic and nonprofit sector, Carleton’s MPNL program aims to establish Canada’s first school of philanthropy, building on our success over the past ten years. It was a bold move in 2013 to launch Canada’s only graduate program specifically serving the philanthropic and nonprofit sector, and we have an even more audacious vision for the future.

In a series of short pieces, below, I explore the state of research and education for this sector and how it needs to be – and indeed could be – strengthened to promote more impactful philanthropy and an even more effective charitable/nonprofit sector in Canada. This exploration underlines the case for creating and supporting a Canadian school of philanthropy.

I’m doing this out of concern for the future of the field and for the (often overlooked) importance of building and maintaining bridges between academia and professional practice. Fostering such connections and advancing philanthropic and nonprofit research and its practical application, have been core goals across my 35 years as a professor. As I move into the final stage of my academic career, I aim to be generative – to draw upon some of the lessons I’ve learned from working both in academia and with the sector, and apply these to fostering a stronger, mutually-reinforcing relationship between them in the years to come.

I invite ideas and constructive feedback on these reflections.

Dr. Susan Phillips is on LinkedIn. Banner photo is courtesy of Adrien Césard.