Moody named Chair for Family Philanthropy

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The Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University has named Michael Moody as the Frey Foundation Chair for Family Foundations and Philanthropy, the nation’s first endowed chair focusing on family philanthropy.

The Frey Foundation pledged $1.5 million to the Johnson Center to establish this unique chair as a way to expand knowledge about, and improve the practice of family philanthropy. As the Frey Chair, Moody will work with a network of national advisors and partners to establish a comprehensive program of applied research, teaching, professional development and public service, all designed to advance and promote the field of family philanthropy in the U.S.

Family foundations and other family donors play an essential and expanding, yet often unheralded, role in enhancing the quality of human life in communities nationwide. More than 37,000 family foundations provide critical assistance to America's 1.5 million nonprofit organizations, supporting their programs in health care, education, human services, religion, arts and culture, the environment and other areas.

Moody is currently president of Moody Philanthropic Consulting based in Richmond, Virginia, providing research and writing, project development, advising, and related services. His clients have included the Council on Foundations, The Philanthropic Initiative (Boston), Social Venture Partners International, The Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy at the University of Southern California and various local nonprofits and donors.
 
“I am honored to be named the first Frey Chair for Family Philanthropy — the very first chair for family philanthropy,” said Moody. With such a rich and long tradition of philanthropy, it is appropriately in West Michigan, here at the Johnson Center. I am grateful to the Frey Family for this wonderful opportunity.

“Given all that family foundations and donors do in our society, it is surprising that neither scholars, nor practitioners, nor the general public know all that much about family philanthropy as a field. The Frey Chair is an opportunity to change that — to build our knowledge of a growing field, to work with professionals in family foundations to improve their grantmaking, and to help families give more, give together, and give effectively.”

Moody has been working to understand and improve philanthropy for more than 20 years. After earning a bachelor's degree in psychology from Indiana University, he was one of the first employees of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University where he helped develop the Jane Addams Fellows program. He went on to receive a master's degree in social science from the University of Chicago and a doctorate in sociology from Princeton University, with a research focus on philanthropic giving and nonprofit organizations.

Moody has held previous faculty positions at Boston University and the University of Southern California, and has taught in diverse formats for more than a decade. He is co-author (with Robert L. Payton) of the book, Understanding Philanthropy: Its Meaning and Mission, and has published numerous articles on topics such as venture philanthropy, donor education, the challenge of ethical giving, diversity among foundation executives, “giving back” as an explanation for philanthropy, and how nonprofits advocate for the public good.

Grand Valley State University attracts more than 24,400 students with high-quality programs and state-of-the-art facilities. Grand Valley is a comprehensive university serving students from all 83 Michigan counties and dozens of other states and foreign countries. Grand Valley offers 77 undergraduate and 28 graduate degree programs from campuses in Allendale, Grand Rapids and Holland, and from regional centers in Muskegon and Traverse City. The university is dedicated to individual student achievement, going beyond the traditional classroom experience, with research opportunities and business partnerships.

The Frey Foundation, based in Grand Rapids, is one of Michigan's largest family foundations. Grants are provided primarily to nonprofit organizations in western Michigan for projects to enhance children's development, protect natural resources, promote the arts and expand philanthropic and civic action. The Frey Foundation was established in 1974 and was permanently endowed in 1988 from the estate of the late Edward J. and Frances T. Frey.

For more information, contact Grand Valley State University’s Johnson Center for Philanthropy at (616) 331-7585, or New and Information Services at (616) 331-2221.