William A. Schambra

William A. Schambra

The Giving Review co-editor 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.”


The subversiveness of charity

By suggesting that our vast network of social services isn’t adequate to the task of meeting human needs, the everyday charitable acts of Americans “threaten” to carve out islands of independent civic initiative, free from the heavy-handed guidance and arrogant expertise of philanthropic reformers.

David Rubenstein and the Jefferson Memorial, Anand Giridharadas and the Wollman Rink

Progressive critiques of private philanthropy ignore prior public experience with government spending.


A one-sided social compact

As establishment philanthropy defends its position in American society, it would do well to tend to more than just one flank.


Philanthropy and homelessness in L.A. (Part 3 of 3): An alternative look at why things might have gone so wrong, and how grantmakers could perhaps do better

In wake of USC Center on Philanthropy & Public Policy’s must-read report, third of three-part series offers different take on applying theory, facing reality, and learning lessons for future giving.

Philanthropy and homelessness in L.A. (Part 2 of 3): Ongoing and growing doubt about whether promoted public policies are working

In wake of USC Center on Philanthropy & Public Policy’s must-read report, second of three-part series tracks depressingly increasing evidence of failure.


Philanthropy and homelessness in L.A. (Part 1 of 3): An “action plan”

In wake of USC Center on Philanthropy & Public Policy’s must-read report, first of three-part series overviews initial ambitions and aspirations of effort led by city’s funders to deal with “wicked problem.”

Warranted wariness of philanthropic “problem-solving”

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


Is the business of business business?

Sector-bending has always been a symptom of a larger intellectual problem: utopianism.