Project on Transformative Philanthropy

The Project on Transformative Philanthropy offers professional development and networking opportunities to private donors interested in contributing to sustainable, community-based relief operations in times of natural disaster and complex emergency. In particular, the project organizes an annual series of events designed for private donors and composed of a Harvard seminar, a field assessment mission, and a thematic workshop focusing on selected humanitarian challenges and opportunities arising in complex emergencies. The project will collaborate closely with existing philanthropy networks and initiatives, and offers curriculum components, case studies, and technical support in integrating humanitarian action in strategic planning for philanthropy.

The aim of this project is to create an informed and open environment in which private donors, entrepreneurs, and inheritors can consider opportunities for strategic engagements in disaster relief and refugee assistance programs. Participants will examine the relationships between various programmatic areas in complex emergencies, including relief and assistance, public health initiatives, human rights advocacy, conflict mediation and resolution programs, security and safety management, as well as business and commercial operations. The vulnerability of populations will be analyzed through its epidemiological profile, using relevant scientific parameters informing the design of humanitarian programs by humanitarian agencies. Ultimately, this project is designed to allow participants to focus on particular areas of interest in humanitarian affairs, away from the tremor of current crises, and to seek necessary information and expertise to make informed decisions on the strategic orientation of their financial support.  

Through this process, participants will examine the strategic planning and operational challenges of providing life-saving relief and protection to vulnerable populations in times of crisis. In particular, they will seek to identify opportunities for social entrepreneurial initiatives aimed at strengthening the capacity and resilience of communities facing such complex emergencies. By engaging in this program, participants will be joining an informal community of peers interested in humanitarian action. Participation will take place through a selective process. The payment of a yearly subscription fee will give participants access to all of the events of a series, excluding travel and accommodation costs. This project is open to all interested philanthropists, with or without experience in humanitarian affairs. The project is not a fund-raising exercise for its organizers or partners, or an attempt to advocate particular positions or agendas in humanitarian affairs toward the participants.

This project is organized by the Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research at Harvard University (HPCR), in partnership with the International Association of Professionals in Humanitarian Assistance and Protection (PHAP) based in Brussels. The role of the Harvard Program will be to support critical deliberations, through the organization of workshops, and to provide additional ad hoc briefings on ongoing crises. The role of PHAP as an operational partner will be to organize the logistical aspects of the field missions, building on its relationships with humanitarian agencies and professionals to seek collaboration and access to the most relevant local organizations, government representations, and international agencies.