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Abilene Christian UniversityFall 2016Strategic PhilanthropyDepartments: Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship & PhilanthropyJim Orr, Jim Litton14 students
Abilene Christian UniversityFall 2017Strategic PhilanthropyDepartments: Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship & PhilanthropyJim Orr20 students
Abilene Christian UniversityFall 2018Strategic PhilanthropyDepartments: Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship & PhilanthropyJim Orr23 students
Abilene Christian UniversitySpring 2020Strategic PhilanthropyDepartments: Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship & PhilanthropyJim Orr15 students
Abilene Christian UniversitySpring 2023Topics in Entrepreneurship:Strategic PhilanthropyDepartments: Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship & PhilanthropyJim Orr, Jim Litton9 students
Abilene Christian UniversityFall 2023Strategic PhilanthropyDepartments: Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship & PhilanthropyJim Orr, Jim Litton 9 students

Strategic Philanthropy
Taught by Jim Orr
Department: Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship & Philanthropy

Jim Orr is the Executive Director of the Office of Gift Planning at ACU, where he leads the university’s efforts in the area of estate, trusts and charitable gift planning.  He received his bachelor’s degree in accounting from ACU (1986), and then his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law (1989).   In 2023, he received a professional certificate as a certified specialist in planned giving through the American Institute for Philanthropic Studies at Long Beach State University.

Prior to his employment with ACU, he was engaged in the private practice of law for 25 years, and founded the firm of Francis & Orr, LLP, where he concentrated his practice in the area of commercial and business litigation.  In addition to appearing before numerous state and federal district courts throughout Texas, he also represented clients before the various appellate courts, including the Supreme Court of Texas, the federal First Circuit Court of Appeals and Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.  He is also a professionally-trained and court-appointed mediator.  Jim also served on ACU’s Board of Trustees from 2002 – 2014.

Jim and his wife, Elaine, have two adult children, who are both married.  Jim and Elaine also have two granddaughters.  In addition to spending time with family, Jim enjoys staying active with recreational sports, reading, traveling, and gardening.

ACU partnered with Community Foundation of Abilene to bring grant proposals to students for consideration

  • The Community Foundation of Abilene brings 20 organizations forward for students to review (only 25% same orgs as the year prior)
  • The Community Foundation of Abilene’s staff comes in as guest lecturers for the grant making process, offering advice and additional insight into giving and each organization

Multiple “Panels of Experts” visit class

Students complete and submit a Comprehensive Briefing Book (~40-50 pages), which includes:

  • Data about the concern(s) they’re addressing
  • What’s happening in Abilene programmatically to address those concerns
  • What innovations and best practices can be found elsewhere to address those concerns
  • What gaps in services exist in Abilene
  • Theories of change, leverage and/or scale for addressing these concerns
  • Information about the nonprofits they’ve assessed
  • Evaluation metrics
  • Process for selecting finalists
  • Funding letters
  • Declination letters
  • Grant applications

Capstone Essay/Giving Goal

  • As the final assignment, students write a capstone essay exploring their personal views on philanthropy and how they intend to approach philanthropy going forward. Based on this, students asked to create and post Giving Goals.

Guest Speakers

  • Jim Clark – CEO of Christian Service Center of Abilene

Latest News

July 31, 2023


August 13, 2020

Philanthropy class distributes $50,000 in donations to local nonprofits

Student Testimonials

This class ignited my passion for philanthropy! The experiences I had and knowledge I gained planted a desire in me to contribute to my community in a meaningful way and do something good for the world with my life.

Shannon Buergner

This course brought a new level of excellence to the way I approach giving. It showed me how to properly research to ensure my funds are being stewarded well.

Hope Henry

Strategic Philanthropy challenged a lot of what I considered to be progressive notions of giving. From the reading material to site visits to presenting grant proposals, I had the opportunity to re-imagine and expand my vision for community impact.

Madison Hall