William A. Schambra

William A. Schambra

William A. Schambra is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C. He directed Hudson’s Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civic Renewal from 2003 to 2014. Prior to joining Hudson in ’03, he was Director of Programs at the The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee. At Bradley, among other things, he spearheaded creation in 1997 of the National Commission on Philanthropy and Civic Renewal.

Before joining Bradley in 1992, Schambra was a senior advisor to and speechwriter for U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese III, U.S. Office of Personnel Management Director Constance Horner, and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Louis Sullivan. He was also Director of Social Policy Programs for the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and Co-Director of AEI’s “A Decade of Study of the Constitution.”

From 2003 to 2006, Schambra served on the Board of Directors of the Corporation for National and Community Service. From 1984 to 1990, he served as a member of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, to which he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Northern Illinois University.

Schambra has written extensively on the Constitution, the theory and practice of civic revitalization, and philanthropy, including in The Wall Street Journal, The Public Interest, Public Opinion, Policy Review, RealClearPolicy, The Christian Science Monitor, Philanthropy, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Philanthropy Daily, Nonprofit Quarterly, First Things, and Crisis. He has edited several books, including As Far as Republican Principles Will Admit: Collected Essays of Martin Diamond, and is a Philanthropy Daily contributing editor.

The NonProfit Times named Schambra among its 2013 Power & Influence Top 50, complimenting him for “consistently sticking his finger in the eye of the sector’s elite” and raising questions “designed to broaden the idea of philanthropy’s role in America today.” When he retired from running the Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civic Renewal in 2014, Adam Keiper lauded it in National Review for being “a think tank project like no other, since the subjects it focuses on rarely get the kind of thoughtful intellectual attention that Schambra and his colleagues have devoted to them.” Keiper concluded that “[i]f there is any consolation to be had in the fact that the Bradley Center is winding down its work in the next few months, it is that Bill still has a great deal of youthful vim, and will hopefully now have more time to pick up his pen and write.”


Overstating the role of philanthropy in education reform

In Milwaukee, it didn’t start with any grantmaker. The indispensable groundwork was laid by parents concerned about the education of their children.

Further thoughts on “other-side” giving

Searching for isolated, but incredibly powerful voices of authentic experience with utopian progressivism, who can speak about its excesses with an authority that scholars and activists don’t possess.


Warranted wariness of philanthropic “problem-solving”

Civil society should not be seen by experts, or funders, merely as a tool to solve social problems.

Welcome to “The Giving Review”

Introducing our new blog for independent analysis and commentary about philanthropy and giving.


Conservative policy funders have become as impatient as liberal donors

Restoring a more patient philanthropy means backing away from the obsession with immediate policy and political outcomes.

“Art of the Steal” raises tough questions about donor intent

A documentary that details the fight over the stewardship of a $25-billion art collection raises enduring questions of donor intent.


Advocacy evaluation: why bother?

The world of policy can be murky, complex, unpredictable. Measuring outcomes in advocacy grantmaking is perhaps not only difficult, but also objectionable.

Strewn across the land

How many thousands of neglected, overlooked civic structures are strewn across the land?


Americans are sick of foundations and other elite institutions that ‘know best’

American philanthropy is thoroughly, fundamentally elitist. In the Trump era, it will be tempted to pursue political activity that will only make that fact painfully apparent to the American people…