Dissertations, Theses and Capstone Projects

Date of Award

Fall 2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Administration (MPA)


Political Science


Beginning in the 1990s, a new kind of philanthropy emerged that was formulated on the premise of merging philanthropy with investing. The concept of turning philanthropy into social investing was coined venture philanthropy and has received substantial attention since its inception. Generally speaking, if the business model of the organization shows promise, investors will narrow their focus to that organization for multiple years rather than committing to one-year grants (Community Health Ventures for the Morino Institute 2010). In view of this, investors will engage in long term relationships and partner with the organization to support capital needs.

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research are three disease-focused foundations that practice venture philanthropy in order to proactively identify and fill key gaps in public funding. Each nonprofit has a different focus, but each has a mission that is focused on providing efficient, effective, and transparent services, such as drug development, to a patient population that requires assistance. Each of these nonprofits was founded by individuals affected by the disease they support and has experienced both success and challenges during its lifespan. Conducting an analysis of these foundations gives a concentrated snapshot of the benefits and shortcomings of venture philanthropy as a nonprofit business model.

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