Power of Giving

A collage of previous Power of Giving program speakers

The Philanthropy Initiative’s keystone event is its annual symposium, The Power of Giving: Philanthropy’s Impact on American Life. In dynamic talks and conversations, this convening of philanthropists, historians, thought leaders, social innovators, and subject experts brings historic perspectives to contemporary issues in philanthropy.

Drawing upon Smithsonian and philanthropy sector expertise, participants grapple with complex problems. Discussions look to future solutions by understanding these issues within the larger context of American history and American philanthropy’s long participatory tradition, in all their complexities.

Featured speakers have included Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett, Jean Case, Dagmar Dolby, Carla Hayden, Dr. William Foege, Alberto Ibargüen, Nicholas Kristof, Katherine Lorenz, Mary Stuart Masterson, Gifford Pinchot III, David Rockefeller Jr., David M. Rubenstein, Premal Shah, and Darren Walker.

The annual Power of Giving symposium brings historic perspectives to contemporary conversations about philanthropy’s impact. View other Power of Giving symposiums focusing on annual themes: the 2020 Power of Giving focusing on Educational Equity; the 2019 Power of Giving symposium on Health and Medicine; the 2018 Power of Giving symposium on Culture and the Arts, and the 2016 Power of Giving symposium on Sustainability and the Environment. The 2015 Power of Giving symposium examined philanthropy more broadly as part of the launch of the Philanthropy Initiative.