George McCully: Founder and CEO, Catalogue for Philanthropy
Philanthropy is his second career. Trained in Renaissance history at Brown (A.B. 1960) and Columbia (M.A., 1961, Ph.D. 1967), he taught and published articles on history, the philosophy of history, and higher education, for nearly twenty years—as a graduate student at Barnard and Columbia; then at Swarthmore, Princeton, Yale, and Wellesley, with two years in academic administration at Brown, as Assistant Dean of the Faculty.
In 1980 he entered professional philanthropy as Executive Director of the Center for Field Research and Vice-President of Earthwatch, awarding $1.5 million annually in sciences and humanities field research grants worldwide. This put him on a number of Boards, and by 1983 he was a full-time independent consultant in philanthropy, serving since then as fundraiser, strategic planner, trustee, and advisor to charities, foundations, families and individual donors. In 1984 he was founding Board President of the national Center for Plant Conservation—a consortium of 12 (now 31) leading botanic gardens from Boston to Hawaii, created to manage the plant endangerment crisis in the United States. He conceived its Priority Regions Programs in Hawaii, California, Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, and a spin-off adapted for the New England Wild Flower Society (NEWFS): the New England Plant Conservation Program (NEPCoP). Since 1988 he has helped to build the Boston Early Music Festival as today the world’s leading institution of Early Music. He was for 27 years trustee of the Ellis L. Phillips Foundation (Boston), and has helped to create four community foundations, serving for ten years as founding trustee of the Community Foundation of MetroWest (Boston). He was a founding Board director (2008-2015) of the Davlin Philanthropic Fund, a mutual fund, and of its corporate Foundation. Currently he is a director of Constellation Center, Inc. and trustee of the Constellation Charitable Foundation, Overseer of NEWFS, Advisor to Youth Catalytics, and member of the Vestry at St. Dunstan's Episcopal Church in Dover, MA.
In 1997 he formed a coalition of 20 leading foundations, corporations, and individual donors in Massachusetts, to create the first Catalogue for Philanthropy (incorp. 2002), to promote charitable giving and strengthen the culture of philanthropy through donor education. He wrote vols. I-XI (884 pp.) of the Catalogues—articles about philanthropy, supported by descriptions of (in twelve years) over 900 charities, cumulatively the most thorough and detailed description, defense, and advocacy of philanthropy ever published. Also in 1997 he created for public awareness the "Generosity Index", comparing States’ ranks in income and giving, which soon became the nation's leading stimulus for annual media discussions of charitable giving. Together the Catalogue and the Generosity Index played a leading role in doubling Massachusetts charitable giving, from $2 billion to $4 billion, in only four years (1997-2000), on an investment of $2 million.
In 2008 the Catalogue published his book, Philanthropy Reconsidered—an introduction to and strategic overview of philanthropy, connecting its original etymology and conception in ancient Greece and Rome, through its revival in the Renaissance, to the Enlightenment and the American Revolution in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. In 1999 he was the first to notice the current national paradigm-shift of philanthropy, which in 2000 he identified in two articles of Foundation News. In 2005 he conceived and has developed the Massachusetts Philanthropic Directory (MPD), a prototype of which was launched online in 2011—a systematic, comprehensive, analytical, directory to all philanthropic charities of Massachusetts—the first designed interface between philanthropy as a whole and the donating public, featuring a systematic taxonomy of philanthropic fields, of kinds of people served, a search engine identifying whole groups of charities by one or more variables: field, revenue size, age, location, and kinds of people served. In 2016 the Directory system was awarded the first U.S. patent for the field of philanthropy: #9,348,942 B2, “Promoting Philanthropy”. The prototype is being disseminated as an online research and education instrument for donors and others, capable of systematically presenting all active charities in the U.S. for donor education and professional analyses. Dr. McCully has been a founding member of the Editorial Board of Conversations on Philanthropy, and is main author of the Wikipedia article on “Philanthropy”, which has attracted 7 million readers of its first sentence, that “philanthropy” means etymologically “the love of what it is to be human”, and in practice “private initiatives, for public good.” A spin-off of the Catalogue is still going strong in Washington, D.C.
The mission of the Catalogue is "To increase charitable giving through donor education." The book addresses philanthropy’s vocabulary, conceptualization, rhetoric and current history; the MPD its technology, infrastructure and modes of operation. Together, they are intended to promote a New Paradigm, and to help develop a culture of philanthropy in America. A compendium of Dr. McCully's recent publications on a wide variety of topics may be found here.