Nonprofit Effectiveness

Addressing Core Causes

Mark and Etta Rosen

Mark and Etta Rosen focus their philanthropy on addressing the core causes of—and systemic responses to—the most serious problems and inequities in our city, region and nation. At the heart of their commitment is support of the nonprofit sector itself with the goal of strengthening it so that it can be as effective as possible. They explain: “Improving the health of the sector will help all philanthropic dollars go farther.”


Mark and Etta Rosen embody a beloved Boston Foundation motto: Don’t just give. Solve. 

The couple has always given to numerous organizations and causes but in recent years has taken a more strategic approach. They opened a Donor Advised Fund at the Boston Foundation and, through Foundation-hosted convenings and conversations with staff, a focus emerged.  While still giving to organizations they’ve long supported, they now have clearer goals. And their giving—their solving—goes beyond the financial. They’ve donated to conservation organizations, but also renovated their 1865 townhouse to LEED standards with an award-winning green rooftop. They are committed to organizations that address early childhood issues and Etta serves on the board of Families First. They have made significant contributions to the Institute for Nonprofit Practice (INP), and Mark chairs its board. 

The INP, which the Foundation also supports, is a highly affordable, one-year certificate-granting program for nonprofit leaders that equips them with the management and leadership skills they need to make their organizations effective and sustainable. It offers a track for current leaders and a track for emerging leaders. Both aim to fill a self-reported skills gap and a long-standing diversity gap in sector leadership. 

“It’s a significant philanthropic priority for us,” says Mark, “and we’re grateful for the Boston Foundation’s leadership in the field. It is in the vanguard of institutional funders that fully appreciate the importance of capacity-building in the nonprofit sector and remains a loyal partner to INP.”