$2.2 million in gifts solidify Grand Valley's first fully endowed chair at Johnson Center for Philanthropy

A $1.2 million grant from the Frey Foundation combined with a $1 million matching gift from a generous donor will create Grand Valley State University’s first fully endowed chair at the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy .

The Frey Foundation Chair for Family Philanthropy – the first of its kind in the nation – was created at the Johnson Center as a result of a $1.5 million grant from the Frey Foundation in 2008. The additional $2.2 million creates a permanent funding stream for the position.

“As we prepare to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Frey Foundation in 2024, this grant will help secure the Frey family’s long-standing legacy of support for family philanthropy at Grand Valley,” said Holly Johnson, president of the Frey Foundation .

Grand Valley President Philomena V. Mantella said the gifts will enhance the internationally recognized work being done at the Johnson Center and ensure it continues as a global resource in advancing meaningful, effective philanthropy. 

“These gifts from the Frey Foundation and another generous donor will fully endow a chair position that will benefit the philanthropic community for generations to come and further elevate the important work being done at the Johnson Center,” Mantella said.

Giving by families in the U.S. is at an inflection point today, one that combines a historic process of wealth transfer (Generation X and Millennials stand to inherit as much as $84 trillion by 2045) and a worrying decline in the number of U.S. households that say they give to charity (that number has dropped below 50% for the first time). The work of the Frey Foundation Chair for Family Philanthropy at the Johnson Center is therefore especially important as the nonprofit sector and countless engaged donors and community members wrestle to understand these phenomena and adapt their fundraising, engagement and service models.

“By investigating urgently relevant questions about how families want to give and engage key stakeholders around these questions, the Frey Foundation Chair for Family Philanthropy plays a critical role in helping to navigate a time of immense dynamism and complexity,” said Lesley D. Slavitt, executive director of the Johnson Center. “We are deeply grateful for the Frey Foundation’s belief in the importance of this work and transformative generosity.”

The Frey Foundation Chair for Family Philanthropy, along with a network of partners, pursues a comprehensive, international program of applied research, speaking and writing, professional education and teaching, and other activities.

In 2010, Michael Moody was appointed inaugural Frey Foundation Chair for Family Philanthropy at the Johnson Center. His work defined an area of study that did not previously exist in academia and positioned GVSU as a global center of excellence in family philanthropy. During his time as Chair, Moody’s groundbreaking work to engage and understand next-generation donors and their values, aims, and strategies was recognized as transformative for the sector.

Moody left the post earlier this year to serve as professor of philanthropic studies at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. A search is underway for the next chair.


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