The UW Philanthropic Project is a multiyear research program seeking to understand the many important roles that philanthropic foundations play in American society.

Phase One of the UW Philanthropy Project is currently underway. This phase consists of a national survey of philanthropic foundations that aims to understand the decision-making processes of foundation staff and leaders. This survey is made possible through support from the Ford Foundation.  An initial report on our findings will be released in mid 2021. Phase Two of the UW Philanthropy Project uses in-depth case studies to generate practical implications for foundation staff and refine theory development on philanthropic foundation decision-making. This phase will commence in 2021.

Read Report

Participatory Practices and Grantmaking Report June 2021

Meet the Research Team

David Suárez, Ph.D., is an associate professor and the Colleen Willoughby Fellow in Philanthropy & Civil Society at the Evans School of Public Policy & Governance, University of Washington. His current research explores a) the relationship between management strategy and organizational performance in social sector organizations and b) the consequences of professionalization for nonprofits and foundations. He is particularly interested in collaboration, advocacy, and civic engagement—issues that link nonprofits and philanthropic institutions to public agencies and the policy process.

Emily Finchum-Mason is a Ph.D. Candidate at the Evans School of Public Policy & Governance. Her dissertation research focuses on the relationship between organizational professionalization and the representation and participatory inclusion of marginalized beneficiaries as a result of the government-nonprofit contracting relationship. Her other research interests include interorganizational dynamics in collaborative governance regimes and racial/ethnic representation in nonprofit leadership. Emily holds an MS in Policy Studies from DePaul University.

Kelly Husted is a Ph.D. Candidate at the Evans School of Public Policy & Governance. Her dissertation research focuses on the role large foundations play in influencing public policy. Her other research streams include accountability within collaborative governance partnerships and the potential for democratizing philanthropy through women’s collective giving. She holds an MPA from the University of San Francisco and a BA from Stanford University in Political Science and Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity.


View the survey instrument used in Phase One of this study.


If your foundation is interested in partnering with our research team, please contact

Related Resource