Philanthropic Leadership in a Changing World

It is clear—the world is changing. What is less clear is how the philanthropic world will change alongside it.


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At Russell Reynolds Associates, we work with the world’s leading philanthropic and social impact organizations, advising them on their most pressing strategic leadership and organizational challenges.

Our intersectional and global perspective provides a broad view into the ways in which philanthropic organizations are experimenting with new models of impact, and the ways in which a new cohort of philanthropists is innovating within the existing model.

The scale at which these new funders are operatingsometimes several orders of magnitude larger than traditional, legacy foundationshas the potential to significantly amplify impact on many of society’s most pressing needs. However, given the sector’s systemic challenges, the rise of “new philanthropy” also has the potential to reinforce power imbalances, enable arrogance masked as innovation and, despite earnest intention, reaffirm systemic inequity.

Whether starting an organization from scratch or reorienting an existing one, leaders should consider the spectrum of options available to them, and the implications for the type of leadership required.

Philanthropy in a Changing World



How we support philanthropy leadership

To future-proof your philanthropic organization, we assess organizational priorities, and recruit and develop leaders who understand how philanthropy is evolving — and how to capture the opportunity.

Assess search readiness

Aligning on organizational priorities enables improved efficiency and higher quality of process before launching a search. We use our proprietary diagnostic approach to identify areas of alignment and where your organization should focus to set existing and incoming leaders up for success. 

Find higher-caliber philanthropic leaders

Our unique approach to needs assessment enables a search process that helps attract CEOs, board members, and CxOs who have the right skills to drive philanthropic efforts and mission.

Develop philanthropic executives

Executive leadership teams need to work together towards achieving your mission. So, we work with your top team to assess and develop executives’ capabilities.

Enhance your governance mechanisms

Effective leadership starts at the very top. We find ways to strengthen your governance by advising on how your decision-making norms and structures are supporting the achievement of your mission.

Nurture a values-based culture to foster alignment

Values and commitment to DEI will be crucial in guiding your organization towards its mission. Our scientific approach to culture development uncovers future-looking, actionable insights on how to build a diverse, equitable, and inclusive culture.


Ready to start your Philanthropy journey?