Center for Effective Philanthropy



Cambridge, MA

Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2017):

Revenue: $9,451,015
Expenses: $8,197,630
Assets: $7,570,025


Non-profit Survey/Advisory Organization


Mark R. Kramer



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The Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) is a survey and advisory organization that analyzes nonprofit groups on behalf of major donors to analyze donation effectiveness and donor relationships. Founded in 2001, CEP conducts surveys and studies of nonprofits to gauge the recipient organizations’ perceptions of donor effectiveness, donor transparency, and the overall health of donor relationships. 1

CEP is funded partly by its survey and advisory fees, but the Center also receives regular funding from several large, left-of-center foundations including the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Wallace Foundation, and the Duke Endowment. The John D. and Catherine T. Macarthur Foundation awarded CEP $705,000 between 2003 and 2020. Aside from block grants, CEP has also received several one-time grants to conduct individual studies. 2 3

CEP’s daughter initiative, YouthTruth, does similar survey work within schools, conducting surveys to gauge student and family perceptions of classrooms, school programs, and teacher effectiveness. 4 CEP is also affiliated with the Council on Foundations. 5


Mark Kramer is the founder of CEP. Kramer is the former president of the venture capital firm Kramer Capital Management and also founded FSG Social Impact Advisors, a nonprofit charitable consulting service. Kramer is also a member of the steering committees for the United Nations Global Compact and the left-of-center Rockefeller Foundation’s Framework for Action program. Kramer is also a member of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development and a senior fellow with the Harvard Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative. 6

Grant Oliphant, chairman of the CEP board, is the former press secretary to the late U.S. Senator H. John Heinz, a liberal Republican from Pennsylvania. In addition to his work at CEP, Oliphant is president of Heinz Endowments and was formerly CEO of the Pittsburgh Foundation, a community grantmaking foundation. Oliphant is the former chairman of the board of Riverlife, a nonprofit which aims to develop riverfront property in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Aside from his work in philanthropy, Oliphant has been active in media, working as the founding editor of American Politics, a political magazine. 7 Oliphant also hosts the Heinz Endowment’s podcast We Can Be, which covers left-leaning political issues. Past podcast episodes have included “Decolonizing Wealth,” “Environmental Racism,” and “Justice, Poetry, Race, and Activism.” In an interview with White Fragility author Robin DiAngelo, Oliphant agreed with DiAngelo’s statement that, “All our institutions effectively and efficiently reproduce inequality.” 8

CEP President Phil Buchanan is the author of Giving Done Right: Effective Philanthropy and Making Every Dollar Count. Buchanan is also the co-founder of YouthTruth and sits as a board member of Philanthropy Massachusetts and the National Council on Aging. 9

CEP Methodology

For its initial survey pool, CEP offered services to 200 donor foundations, only thirteen of which responded. To work with CEP, donors pay up to $30,000 for an assessment of their recipient charities’ perception of the donors’ effectiveness and working relationships. Grant recipients reported that they were often afraid to push back against donor requests due to fear of retaliation, including potential loss of funding. 10

In a survey funded by the S.D Bechtel Jr. Foundation and the Raikes Foundation, CEP revealed that most nonprofits who received grants from donor foundations were frustrated by the amount of pressure donor foundations exerted upon their grant recipients. Recipients also complained about a lack of transparency regarding the terms and guarantees of multi-year funding. To alleviate these problems, CEP advocates for increasing unrestricted giving by donor organizations as opposed to funds earmarked for a specific purpose. CEP also encourages large donor foundations to connect nonprofits directly with individual major donors. 1112

In another study on racial, gender, and sexuality diversity funded by the left-of-center Rita Allen Foundation and W.K. Kellogg Foundation, CEP surveyed 205 nonprofit organization leaders. The study showed that 42% of leaders would prefer that their donors were “not involved or not very involved” in diversity efforts within their individual organizations, while only 17% reported that they would like to see donors “very involved” in diversity efforts. 13


YouthTruth is a survey and advisory organization founded in 2008 by CEP president Phil Buchanan and Hewlett Foundation vice president Fay Twersky in collaboration with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. YouthTruth creates and conducts surveys for children enrolled in K-12 schooling, their families, and school staff to evaluate the effectiveness of classes, school programming, and teaching methods. YouthTruth has already surveyed over 1.5 million students in 5 countries. In addition to fees from surveys and advising services, YouthTruth is funded by gifts from the Walton Family Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, and David and Lucile Packard Foundation. 14


  1. CEP. “About.” Website. Undated. Accessed October 9, 2020.
  2. CEP. “Funders.” Website. Undated. Accessed October 9, 2020.
  3. MacArthur Foundation. “Center for Effective Philanthropy.” Website. Undated. Accessed October 9, 2020.
  4. CEP. “YouthTruth: Student and Stakeholder Voice Matters.” Website. Undated. Accessed October 9, 2020.
  5. Council on Foundations. “Center for Effective Philanthropy.” Website. Undated. Accessed October 9, 2020.
  6. FSG. “Mark Kramer.” Website. Undated. Accessed October 9, 2020.
  7. The Heinz Endowments. “Board and Staff: Grant Oliphant.” Website. Undated. Accessed October 10, 2020.
  8. The Heinz Endowments. “Podcast.” Website. Undated. Accessed October 10, 2020.
  9. CEP. “Phil Buchanan.” Website. Undated. Accessed October 9, 2020.
  10. Strom, Stephanie. “Charities Surprise Donor Foundations with Bluntness.” The New York Times. April 23, 2004. Accessed October 9, 2020.
  11. CEP. “Crucial Donors: How Major Individual Givers Can Best Support Nonprofits.” Website. Undated. Accessed October 9, 2020.
  12. Strom, Stephanie. “Charities Surprise Donor Foundations with Bluntness.” The New York Times. April 23, 2004. Accessed October 9, 2020.
  13. CEP. “Nonprofit Diversity Efforts.” Website. Undated. Accessed October 9, 2020.
  14. YouthTruth. “Funders/History.” Website. Undated. Accessed October 9, 2020.

Directors, Employees & Supporters

Donor Organizations

  1. Duke Endowment (Non-profit)
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: November 1, 2000

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Dec Form 990 $9,451,015 $8,197,630 $7,570,025 $811,490 N $5,399,015 $4,006,052 $45,948 $1,410,450 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $6,306,786 $7,289,979 $6,206,643 $730,816 N $3,296,607 $3,026,907 $14,212 $1,267,575
    2015 Dec Form 990 $7,555,344 $7,091,084 $7,077,042 $631,706 N $4,629,649 $2,891,105 $34,590 $1,589,028 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $6,031,978 $5,703,999 $6,661,523 $644,890 N $3,689,584 $2,331,877 $10,517 $1,807,947 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $4,989,011 $6,626,569 $6,142,303 $453,405 N $2,631,618 $2,321,998 $52,016 $1,394,298 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $9,620,043 $6,114,516 $8,068,151 $701,701 N $6,410,285 $3,170,504 $43,859 $1,057,830 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $6,250,956 $6,361,923 $5,213,033 $1,320,302 N $2,227,983 $3,990,787 $32,186 $1,139,456 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Center for Effective Philanthropy

    Cambridge, MA 02139-3309