How Partnering With Pew Can Maximize Charitable Giving

  • October 02, 2017
  • by Demetra Aposporos

Donor-advised funds let philanthropists focus on their passion, while tapping Pew’s data-driven approach to spurring change.

Philanthropic Partnerships With Pew

Trust Magazine Fall 2017

At the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, New York, farm director Jack Algiere demonstrates sustainable agriculture techniques to a group of young farmers attending a conference. (© Ben Hider)

The rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria poses a major global public health threat. Particularly bedeviling are drug-resistant bacteria that are Gram-negative, which can cause pneumonia, meningitis, and surgical and bloodstream infections. Finding drugs to fight these superbugs has proven challenging. As reported in the August issue of the journal Nature Medicine, “despite several efforts at development, no new class of antibiotics for Gram-negative bacteria has reached the market in more than three decades.”

Among the major reasons are the bacteria’s built-in, tricky defense mechanisms, including a double membrane, that make it difficult for a drug to break through them. But another reason scientists have not been able to find antibiotics to take on these bacteria has been a lack of coordinated data sharing by researchers. The Nature Medicine article says that future research efforts may get a boost, though, from a new database recently launched by The Pew Charitable Trusts “to collect published research and data on the double-membrane problem, in hope of facilitating drug development.”

That internet-based database is the Shared Platform for Antibiotic Research and Knowledge, or SPARK. It was created to let scientists leapfrog research stumbling blocks by seeing how others have conquered similar obstacles, to create more collaboration among researchers, and to allow them to readily build off one another’s work—all with the hope of kick-starting new discoveries. SPARK is supported by the Kathryn W. Davis Peace by Pieces Fund, a donor-advised fund at Pew that invests in a broad range of issues, including public health, sustainability, and the environment.

Trust Magazine Fall 2017

The cone-shaped Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria is Gram-negative and resistant to some antibiotics, making the infections it causes—like pneumonia and meningitis—difficult to treat. (© Science Source)

“Donor-advised funds allow philanthropists to guide their giving to the issues that matter most to them, with a trusted partner to provide philanthropic expertise and management support,” says Sally O’Brien, Pew’s senior vice president of philanthropic partnerships. “Pew handles all administrative tasks, while the donor is able to leverage our seven decades of experience in philanthropic investing.”

Donor-advised funds have become increasingly popular in recent years, and Pew has managed several. Donors are able to remain deeply involved, much as they would if they created their own private foundation. But Pew takes care of the day-to-day administration, supervising the vetting and monitoring of grantees, providing complete grants management, overseeing the investment of fund assets, and filing the required business and tax forms. Drawing on its own history as a grant-making institution, Pew also has experience in strategic planning and evaluation.

That’s the case with the Peace by Pieces Fund, which Pew administers. Advised by one of Kathryn W. Davis’ grandchildren, the fund supports a number of organizations both large and small—among them, the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, which promotes sustainable and community-supported agriculture and local markets. Located in New York’s Hudson River Valley, Stone Barns focuses on training farmers to use resilient and restorative farming techniques, increasing public awareness of the benefits of seasonal and sustainable foods, and educating children about the sources of their meat and produce.

Pew’s nearly 70 years of developing creative ideas and taking calculated risks to improve lives and inform the public is often the catalyst for philanthropists to move from seeking Pew’s advice to establishing a more formal relationship through a donor-advised fund, says O’Brien.

“Whether a donor is an emerging philanthropist who wants to move to a new level of giving or a longtime funder who desires a different strategy around their investments, Pew is committed to transforming their aspirations and passion for giving into a thoughtful approach that reflects their interests and goals,” she says.  

For more information about philanthropic partnerships at Pew, please contact Senior Vice President Sally O’Brien at 202-540-6226 or