Twenty cover photographs of Catalogue for Philanthropy celebrating twenty years
Dear Reader
Twenty cover photos. Twenty catalogues. Twenty years of work across every field of endeavor. How does it begin?

In the year 2000, our founder leaves her full-time professorship to run the Harman Family Foundation and begins to wonder: how do you create equity of access for smaller nonprofits to donors of means? Soon the answer comes into focus. Create a catalogue!

Win financial support from local foundations to add to the Harmans’ leadership gift. Invite submissions from DC nonprofits with budgets under $2M; convince twenty top-notch volunteers to evaluate applications; choose the best.

Use down-to-earth storytelling, arresting local photography, and great design to represent the community in all its diversity and to honor and celebrate the work. Mail 30,000 catalogues … and wait.


By early 2004 discover that you have raised half a million dollars in the first year and turn a DC-focused Catalogue into a DC-region Catalogue.

By 2005, break the $1M mark in funds raised in a single year. By 2006, seek and gain 501(c)(3) status and become an independent public charity (no longer one foundation’s experiment; the experiment has proven itself).

Four years later, teach the first capacity-building workshop, “The Art of the Thank You.” By 2010 see the review team grow to 100 strong and the Catalogue raise close to $3M annually for its nonprofit partners.

Celebrate the 10th anniversary in 2012; 100+ individuals and 20 corporations support the Catalogue; over $18M raised to date; professional development for partners takes early steps.

In 2017, launch the Learning Commons; develop a rich curriculum of courses in development and stewardship, marketing and communications, board management; by 2019 train over 2,000 nonprofit staff in 90 free sessions.

When the pandemic hits, create a Special Issue to address it and raise $7M – over $1M on GivingTuesday alone. By 2021, conduct 6 “leadership cohorts,” including the first BIPOC cohort, in 88 sessions supporting 120+ nonprofit leaders; over 6,000 individuals attend 227 professional development sessions.

As the 20th anniversary arrives, the Catalogue has raised over $55M for its nonprofit partners, and provided professional development for 25,000+ participants. What a journey.