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University of Wisconsin-MadisonFall 2016Philanthropy and Civic EngagementDepartments: Civil Society and Community StudiesCynthia Jasper20 students
University of Wisconsin-MadisonFall 2017Philanthropy and Civic EngagementDepartments: Civil Society and Community StudiesCynthia Jasper25 students
University of Wisconsin-MadisonFall 2018Philanthropy and Civic EngagementDepartments: Civil Society and Community StudiesCynthia Jasper25 students
University of Wisconsin-MadisonFall 2019Philanthropy and Civic EngagementDepartments: Civil Society and Community StudiesCynthia Jasper26 students
University of Wisconsin-MadisonFall 2020Philanthropy and Civic EngagementDepartments: Civil Society and Community StudiesCynthia Jasper33 students
University of Wisconsin-MadisonFall 2021Philanthropy and Civic EngagementDepartments: Civil Society and Community StudiesCynthia Jasper35 students
University of Wisconsin-MadisonFall 2022Philanthropy and Civic EngagementDepartments: Civil Society and Community StudiesCynthia Jasper37 students
University of Wisconsin-MadisonSpring 2023Philanthropy and Civic EngagementDepartments: Civil Society and Community StudiesCynthia Jasper38 students

Philanthropy and Civic Engagement
Taught by Cynthia Jasper
Department of Civil Society & Community Studies

Cynthia Jasper, Vaughan Bascom Professor of Women and Philanthropy, is the chair of the Department of Civil Society and Community Studies in the School of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Dr. Jasper’s research interests include philanthropic education, and topics related to women and their giving. She has authored the publication entitled, “Teaching Civic Engagement Through Student Philanthropy: Theories and Best Practices for Transformative Learning” in the Journal of Nonprofit Education and Leadership. She has also authored a publication entitled, “Women’s Leadership in Philanthropy” for the Encyclopedia of Nonprofit Organizations. She earned her B.S. at Northern Michigan University and her M.S. and Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. 

Films incorporated into the pedagogy (“American Experience”, “New Heroes”, Poverty Inc”, “Who Cares”)

Philanthropy Exhibits

Flash Talks

  • Students are assigned to a chapter in either Ethics of Giving or The Revolution Will Not Be Funded and present their chapter to the class. Students have 2 mins to give a chapter summary presentation to the class, they cover a few chapters each class.

Inspiring Philanthropist paper

  • Students pick a philanthropist (living or historical) that they connect with, cannot be a celebrity or famous philanthropist
  • Must either know the person or the person from Wisconsin or practice philanthropy in the area
  • Describe the philanthropists background, values, issue areas they were interested in
  • Explain why they chose the philanthropist
  • If they know the person, recommends speaking to them directly about their giving and views on philanthropy

Poster of Nonprofits

  • Students collectively work to create visuals/posters to be displayed at the giving ceremony to give background on each organization funded including organization description, program funding, mission/vision, and other pertinent information.

For class discussions covering readings, students submit a discussion question about the readings and identify one significant quote from each text to inform the discussion.

  • They also do this for guest speaker prep

History of Giving Activity

  • Each student assigned one time period from History of Giving – work in small groups to present their time period in philanthropy to the class

One class for a Q&A session with a former student panel

Giving Ceremony

  • Students present their Giving Goals and “inspiring philanthropist” (also invite their inspiring philanthropists to the Giving Ceremony)

Students review job boards and read about careers in philanthropy at the end of the course.

Created committees so student groups are responsible for various aspects of the class

  • Evaluation & Dallas Conference Committee
  • Research & Site Visit Committee
  • Grant Review Committee
  • RFP/Awards Ceremony Committee
  • Communication

Guest Speakers

  • Q&A with past students
  • Diane Ballweg, outside funder, Endres Manufacturing Company Foundation


Latest News

July 31, 2023

Community & Nonprofit Leadership students win $50,000 grant award at the Philanthropy Lab Ambassadors Conference

September 14, 2020

UW’s first Philanthropy Lab class to award $50,000 to nonprofit groups

September 14, 2020

In second year, UW’s Philanthropy Lab class awards $50,000 to three nonprofit groups

Student Testimonials

The Ambassadors Conference changed so much about my views on giving. I learned that I want to be more collaborative with how I give by consulting more people that just one and from all stakeholder groups. I don’t want people just within the organization. I want professors, the people who we are affecting, peers; I want a lot of people who can give different views so I can make a comprehensive and smart decision about my giving strategy.

Caroline MatkomUniversity of Wiconsin-Madison

My largest takeaway from my Philanthropy Lab course was experiencing a board set up but having so many people with different perspectives and values. Therefore, there was conflict, but we worked through that. Also seeing the impact that was being made by the organizations and the aftermath of how appreciative they were of the grant. I most enjoyed meeting new people through the course. Being a first year student, this class was a great way for me to engage with my major – the Community and Nonprofit major – so it really allowed me to connect with fellow students and get a feel for what the major is like.

Calli HughesUniversity of Wiconsin-Madison

Taking this course made me realize the importance and challenges of granting money to different organizations. All of the organizations that applied to our grant are making differences in the world, so choosing which organizations were most deserving was difficult. Being able to make decisions and evaluate which organizations would use the funding properly was something that I learned throughout the course.

Jenna McReynolds

I think the establishment of our values as a class was very important in helping guide our decisions. Going in blind wouldn't have helped us since almost every organization was doing great work, we needed to prioritize our issue areas and demographics.

Akshay Kalra