Founded with the goal of making philanthropy accessible, Why We Give’s School of Philanthropic Studies embodies this value in our mission to teach donors, volunteers and fundraisers in pursuit of their philanthropic passions. Currently, we are teaching at The Brooklyn Brainery. Our courses are available on demand and customizable, send us an inquiry.

Beyond the Bake Sale: Intro to Fundraising for Nonprofits

Image courtesy waferbaby

Image courtesy waferbaby


In 2013, Americans gave away approximately $335 billion, according to Giving USA. The majority of those dollars came from individuals – $240 billion of it, nearly 72%. So, what’s the art and science of charitable giving?  Because the field of philanthropy is vast, we’ll begin with a survey of the charitable options available to raise support – opportunities like foundations, corporations and crowdfunding. Then, we’ll zoom in on a few key areas – you’ll be a part of shaping what you want to study.

You choose your own fundraising adventure includes: individual giving, Board of Trustees and events, databases and more. Together, we’ll explore case studies of successful nonprofits, large and small, from Teach for America to Girls Who Code. Then, you’ll perfect the art of the ask – forget the slideshow and brochure, it’s all about the conversation and we’ll role play for your success to overcome any fears you might have of making that major ask to fund your favorite charity.



Beyond the Board Room: Be an Executive Director or Trustee for the Night 

image courtesy kern.justin

image courtesy kern.justin


This course is designed for those who have taken the prior course or have experience in fundraising.

For half the night, you’ll put on the hat of an Executive Director and for the other half, you’ll wear the coat of the Chair of the Board of Trustees. What are the fundraising tools needed to ensure your philanthropy will succeed? Taking on both of these perspectives, we will draft a fundraising strategic plan.

Tackle real questions faced by professionals and as volunteers, dive into case studies and role play so that you walk away from class with confidence to ask for major gifts.


Behind the Scenes of Fundraising: Databases, Foundations and Proposals

image courtesy kenteegardin

image courtesy kenteegardin

Behind every great donation, there’s a story.  Go behind the scenes to understand the nuts and bolts of fundraising with three critical areas – databases, foundations and proposals.

First, learn how to establish the base of an organization’s success by setting up a database, or in today’s terms, a CRM (Customer Relations Management) tool.  From there, we’ll develop the vocabulary of grant writers to craft the outlines for successful proposals.  Learn from successful pitches in the past and understand what is needed beyond the vision for your project, including financial information and reporting metrics.

As we explore the field of Foundation Giving, both individual and corporate, you will understand how to find a funding source with an aligned mission, best practices for applying, and review case studies. You’ll role play from the decision maker’s seat – as a Foundation’s Executive Director to decide what to fund and what not to fund.

How To Be An Ordinary Philanthropist: Finding Your Philanthropic Fit

whywegive_bioWhen you hear the word philanthropist, who do you picture? The majority of us see the billionaires, people like Bill and Melinda Gates. However, ordinary philanthropists, people giving time, money, or expertise in any amount, are just as extraordinary.

This course will provide an overview of the field of philanthropy from a donor’s perspective, based on the blog, Why We Give. Our lessons are for people searching for a philanthropic fitwhat cause do you want to support, serve on the board for, or volunteer at?

Answer questions like: How do you know if a nonprofit is effective, what’s with the cost of overhead and should I give a small amount to many organizations or a big amount to one cause? Explore case studies of nonprofits and individuals who have found their philanthropic passions. Together, we will discover yours! Our goal is for you to take philanthropic action.

The Art of Small Talk: How To Talk to Strangers 


image courtesy Marc Wathieu

Picture yourself in one of these scenes: walking into a crowded room with strangers conversing in clumps, meeting a potential new client at a networking event or attending a conference with a sea of unfamiliar faces. How do you artfully say hello, discover common interests (besides the weather) and exit gracefully?

In this class, we’ll travel through the flow of conversation in order to master the art of small talk. We’ll simulate the scenes above and examine case studies generated by your classmates. Recommendations from experts like Keith Ferrazzi, author of “Never Eat Alone” to blogs like The Daily Muse will also be incorporated.

You’ll leave with a tool kit to talking, including a list of conversation starters and body language cues.

Why We Give tells stories of ordinary philanthropists, making a difference, dollar by dollar and hour by hour.  

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