The Boston Foundation, The Philanthropic Initiative announce merger

Two leaders join forces to better serve donors and deepen philanthropy’s impact; TPI to operate as distinct unit

December 14, 2011

Boston – In a first of its kind union involving a community foundation, two respected philanthropic leaders, the Boston Foundation andThe Philanthropic Initiative, Inc. (TPI), announce they are merging effective January 1, 2012. TPI will become a distinct unit of the Boston Foundation, maintaining its current brand and current offering of philanthropic client services.

“This agreement brings together two strong and complementary organizations with a history of exemplary service to donors, clients and the larger field of philanthropy,” said Paul Grogan, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation. “Together, we will be better positioned to work with donors on creative strategies with potential for lasting impact. TPI’s expertise designing, executing and evaluating philanthropic programs for donors, families, foundations and corporations on a global level is a tremendous add-on to the Foundation’s service portfolio for our current donors.”

“This merger joins two innovators in philanthropy that share a critical commitment to work that achieves a deep, sustained impact,” said TPI President and CEO Ellen Remmer. “Our current clients will continue to receive the exceptional advice and service they expect from TPI, and we look forward to tapping into the knowledge and resources of the Foundation to further our clients’ work and our decades-long effort to advance the field of philanthropy.”

The Boston Foundation, with assets of $850 million, is made up of some 850 separate charitable funds established by donors either for the general benefit of the community or for special purposes. The Foundation works with donors to identify the values and issues most critical to the donor, connects donors to outstanding nonprofit organizations and helps them evaluate the effectiveness of their giving. The Foundation also offers a wide range of resources for professional advisers to help them tailor charitable giving solutions to their clients’ needs. Donors also benefit from access to the Foundation’s work as a major civic leader, provider of information, convener, and sponsor of special initiatives designed to address the community’s and region’s most pressing challenges.

TPI pioneered the field of strategic philanthropy advising over twenty years ago when it was launched as a nonprofit social business with a mission to help donors increase the impact of their philanthropy.  Today, TPI continues to advise major corporations, individuals and families, and foundations – including many community foundations – around the world. From strategic planning and governance to issues research, program design, execution and evaluation, TPI helps clients, regardless of their experience level, move up the philanthropic curve to achieve greater impact on the issues they care most about.

TPI’s work to advance the field of strategic philanthropy includes the first ever conference on the intergenerational transfer of wealth, the Excellence in Family Philanthropy training curriculum for community foundations, and theCenter for Global Philanthropy at TPI which, in part, supports the development of indigenous philanthropy in countries around the globe.

Examples of TPI’s advising work include 22 years with a Fortune 50 retailer designing and implementing programs that make powerful grants, engage employees, and strengthen their role in the community; the creation and management of a high-impact college access and success program for a prominent Boston-based foundation; and a foundation governance and next generation integration for a Hong Kong-based family foundation who ultimately turned to TPI to design a first-ever forum in Hong Kong to encourage strategic family philanthropy.

Under the terms of the merger, TPI will maintain its current staffing and offices in Boston, and will operate as a distinct unit within the Boston Foundation. TPI President and CEO Ellen Remmer will join the Boston Foundation’s Senior Management Team as Managing Partner, TPI. Remmer has been with TPI since 1993 and developed many of TPI’s signature donor learning programs. She speaks internationally on the subjects of strategic giving, family philanthropy, and women as donors. A national advisory board will be developed as well to inform TPI’s work.

In addition, Peter Nessen, Chair of the Board of Directors for TPI, will join the Boston Foundation Board of Directors. Nessen, the founder and president of Nessen Associates, was Secretary of the Executive Office for Administration and Finance for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from 1991 to 1993. In that capacity, he was the senior cabinet member and the chief financial officer in Governor Weld’s cabinet. Nessen has chaired theMassachusetts Cultural Council and served on the Governor’s Commission evaluating school reform, and serves on the boards of numerous for-profit and non-profit organizations.

“The merger of the Boston Foundation, one of the major high-impact community foundations in the country, and TPI, the pioneer leader in philanthropic consulting, creates a unique platform for the next-generation of philanthropic engagement in community, civic, and global issues,” said Peter Karoff, who founded TPI in 1989. Karoff served as President of TPI until 2002, and has served on the TPI Board of Directors since that time.

The decision to bring together the Boston Foundation and TPI comes at a time when millions of families and other organizations are considering the philanthropic alternatives for billions of dollars in wealth – as noted in the 2006 Boston Foundation report A Golden Age of Philanthropy?: The Impact of the Great Wealth Transfer on Greater Boston . Report co-author Paul Schervish, the Director of theCenter on Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College, noted that the merger gives the Boston Foundation and TPI a unique position in the philanthropic community.

“In recent years we have seen substantially more interest by donors in giving during their lifetimes, often beginning gifts that they augment later with bequests,” said Schervish. “When these donors focus on their philanthropy they often look for advice and counsel to define an area of interest and then narrow the focus for their generosity in a way that maximizes the impact both for the beneficiaries of their donations and in terms of their own satisfaction.”

“What makes this merger unique is that it creates a community foundation where donors can work more explicitly with advisers within the foundation environment to more directly implement their gifts in a systematic way that may even open up new horizons for the donors,” Schervish added.

“Over our nearly 100-year history, the Boston Foundation has been a trusted partner for donors. Together we have made more than $1 billion in grants to organizations large and small that are changing lives. By coming together with TPI, we are living a strategy we have advocated for others in the nonprofit sector. We are bringing on a strong partner and the resulting organization is stronger than either partner could be alone,” said Grogan.

 “At a time when millions of members of the Baby Boomer generation are planning their lasting legacies for family and community, and leading corporations are seeking ways to better align corporate and philanthropic goals, the addition of TPI allows the Foundation to be there for them. In a new campaign we ask, ‘What will you be doing in 100 years?’ With the Boston Foundation and TPI, we can ensure that donors – in Boston and around the world - can have the legacy impact they desire on the areas that matter most to them.”


The Boston Foundation, Greater Boston’s community foundation, is one of the oldest and largest community foundations in the nation, with assets of $850 million. In 2011, the Foundation and its donors made almost $78 million in grants to nonprofit organizations and received gifts of $81 million. The Foundation is made up of some 850 separate charitable funds established by donors either for the general benefit of the community or for special purposes. The Boston Foundation also serves as a major civic leader, provider of information, convener, and sponsor of special initiatives designed to address the community’s and region’s most pressing challenges. For more information about the Boston Foundation, visit or call 617-338-1700.

The Philanthropic Initiative (TPI) is an ally and consultant to ambitious donors looking to advance the art and science of their philanthropy in pursuit of deep social impact. Hired by corporations, foundations and individuals to develop and execute custom strategies to increase the impact of their giving, TPI has invested in the advancement of strategic philanthropy across the globe since 1989.