Founding Executive Director
About Kat Rosqueta
Katherina ‘Kat’ M. Rosqueta is the founding executive director of the Center for High Impact Philanthropy. Founded as a collaboration between the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy & Practice and alumni of the Wharton School, the Center for High Impact Philanthropy is the premier source of knowledge and education to help donors around the world do more good.
Before accepting her appointment to launch the Center, Kat was a consultant with McKinsey & Company; a consultant to the founding team of New Schools Venture Fund; founding director of Board Match Plus, a San Francisco program dedicated to strengthening nonprofit boards; and program manager of Wells Fargo’s Corporate Community Development Group.
She has held numerous civic leadership positions including board president of La Casa de las Madres (San Francisco’s oldest and largest shelter for battered women and their children), chair of the United Way’s Bay Area Week of Caring, and co-founder and executive committee member of the Women’s MBA Network. She currently serves on the board of GuideStar, the world’s largest source of information on nonprofits, and co-chairs Greenlight Fund Philadelphia, a venture philanthropy fund dedicated to addressing urgent social needs in Philadelphia.
Her work and comments have been cited in numerous publications including the New York Times, Slate, Money Magazine, and the Wall Street Journal. She speaks frequently on social impact management and philanthropy and has lectured at the Wharton Business School, Stanford Graduate School of Business, University of California Haas School of Business, and the University of San Francisco’s Institute for Nonprofit Organization Management.
Kat received her B.A. cum laude from Yale University, and an M.B.A. from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. She was the 2012 recipient of the Wharton Women in Business Kathleen McDonald Distinguished Alumna Award and a 2011 recipient of the Brava! Women Business Achievement Award. She and her husband Michael Idinopulos live in Philadelphia with their three children.
Founding Executive Director of the Center for High Impact Philanthropy, Kat Rosqueta, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss social impact, strengthening democracy through philanthropy and knowledge sharing in philanthropy.
Kat speaks passionately about the power of philanthropy and notes that high impact philanthropy is not about how much you give but, rather, it’s about how you give.
She sheds light on her career trajectory and the origins of the Center for High Impact Philanthropy, at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy & Practice.
Her team at the Center is highly multi-disciplinary, which Kat notes is essential. You need the best thinking from diverse actors and disciplines to improve and change the world.
At the Center, they focus on different thematic areas. An interesting – and highly topical – area of research they’re currently pursuing looks at how philanthropy can strengthen democracy.
At the Center, they decide which thematic areas to focus on by determining whether there’s a high potential for social impact; whether they have the funding; whether they think they can quickly assemble a team that can generate answers quickly and well; and whether there is clear funder interest globally for such research.
She adds that it’s essential to have clarity of thought on what, exactly, is the social impact goal you’re trying to achieve; ensuring decisions are informed by the best available evidence out there (both academic and practical); embracing an attitude of learning, measuring and managing progress; and ensuring there is value for money.
The Center is keen to provide guidance on philanthropy to a wide audience and to ensure research can be accessed freely, across diverse platforms. They publish the ‘High Impact Giving Guide’, which provides tips, examples and useful resources for donors.
Moreover, the Center has partnerships with the likes of Fidelity Charitable – the largest Donor Advised Fund (DAF) – who mirror some of the Center’s guidance on giving, and also with Giving Compass, who add some of the Center’s guidance content on their own website.
Kat is clear that one can be a philanthropist without having to be a high-net-worth individual (HNWI). She lightheartedly distinguishes between ‘high input’ philanthropy where you do need a lot of money and ‘high impact’ philanthropy where it’s not about how much you give but, rather, how you give.
Kat also introduces the concept of a ‘social impact portfolio’, which is a useful way for individuals to balance out how much they may want to give philanthropically, or allocate towards impact investing or, indeed, spend by making sustainable purchasing decisions through conscious consumerism.
The conversation then moves into a policy exploration on philanthropy itself; its accountability (or lack thereof); its freedom to take on risk; its track record and ability to tackle social issues where for some reason neither government nor the business sector have mobilised.
An interesting point to keep in mind is that the pools of philanthropic funds available globally are still relatively small – despite all the media coverage on the topic. Kat notes that even the Gates Foundation’s endowment – the largest foundation out there – wouldn’t be able to pay for two years’ worth of public education in even one state alone, in the USA.
Kat’s key takeaway for listeners: now, more than ever, any individual can practice high impact philanthropy. High impact philanthropy is not about how much you give but, rather, it’s about how you give. If you’re unsure of where to start your philanthropic journey, you should simply just start and take the first step. Use the wealth of resources available at the Center and elsewhere that are publicly available and get excited about the impact you can make over a lifetime.
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