Klowden Mike formal

Published July 27, 2015.

From the CEO

In Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville described the habit of "Americans of all ages, conditions and dispositions" to "constantly unite together." The French chronicler of the young republic noted "the endless skill with which the inhabitants of the United States manage to set a common aim to the efforts of a great number of men and to persuade them to pursue it voluntarily."

Fast forward 180 years. The philanthropic impulse that de Tocqueville witnessed has grown apace with the country. Today, Americans give some $350 billion each year to nonprofit groups. But contributions don't always translate into effective programs. And, in light of the demonstrated potential of efforts ranging from advancing medical technology to increasing social mobility, it's more critical than ever that we apply the sorts of performance standards to philanthropy that are routinely applied to business investments. This will both stretch the value of charitable resources and assure donors that their funds are truly making a difference. That's why the Milken Institute recently established the Center for Strategic Philanthropy, bringing under one metaphoric roof our existing efforts to advance more strategic, informed and creative giving.

The new structure draws on the success of FasterCures’ Philanthropy Advisory Service. For nearly a decade, PAS has been evaluating the root causes of the problems donors hope to solve and using that information to create a roadmap for effective giving. With its focus on medical philanthropy, PAS has catalyzed investments in several disease areas. Among its accomplishments: incubating a nonprofit foundation that is now the single largest private funder of melanoma research; fostering cancer immuno-therapy research that has rapidly advanced therapeutic options for glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive malignant brain tumor; and identifying opportunities to expand near-term clinical options for Alzheimer's patients. Building on this foundation, our Center for Strategic Philanthropy is expanding into other areas in which philanthropic capital is poised to make a difference, notably in education and public health.

We're excited to be broadening our horizons because we know there's a huge need here. In the coming decade, it’s estimated that Americans will donate more than $30 trillion, and it would be a tragedy if much of it were wasted. We look forward to helping those who seek to help others.


Michael Klowden, CEO and President