From fragments to a mosaic

Melissa A Berman

Trained as a medievalist, I generally approach any assignment by looking back in time for origins, exemplars and trends. For an overview of professional philanthropy advisers, this task can be completed in about 45 seconds.

The first full-time professional philanthropic adviser seems to have been Frederick Gates (no relation to Bill), who was hired in the late 19th century by John D Rockefeller. Gates was both a successful business man and a Baptist minister, embodying Rockefeller’s faith-based values and his business-like approach to what he and Gates called ‘wholesale’ (vs retail) philanthropy. Many significant donors, from Rockefeller’s era through to our own, hire a full-time adviser or team – either as part of their family office or as the staff of a foundation.

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