The Frey Foundation Chair for Family Foundations and Philanthropy is the nation’s first endowed chair focusing on family philanthropy.

Family foundations and other family donors play an essential and expanding, yet often unheralded, role in enhancing the quality of human life in communities nationwide. More than 37,000 family foundations provide critical assistance to America’s 1.5 million nonprofit organizations, supporting their programs in health care, education, human services, religion, arts and culture, the environment, and other areas.

The Frey Chair works with a network of national advisors and partners to implement a comprehensive program of applied research, teaching, professional development, and public service, all designed to advance and promote the field of family philanthropy in the United States.




National Summit on Family Philanthropy

The Johnson Center National Summit on Family Philanthropy is a biennial meeting unlike any other in the field of family philanthropy. The Summit is an interactive, productive gathering of current and next generation family donors, as well as staff, advisors, and researchers who strive to help families become more effective philanthropists.

In June 2013, family donors from around the country convened in the vibrant philanthropic city of Chicago for the second National Summit and discussed a poignant theme for philanthropic families: the future. Save the date for the next Summit in 2015. It will take place on June 15-16, 2015 in New York City and include candid conversations around the theme of collaboration in family philanthropy.

Original Research for the Field: Next Gen Donors

The Frey Chair for Family Philanthropy, in partnership with the New York-based consulting group 21/64, released this report which provides an in-depth study of next generation donors, those who are inheriting an unprecedented $40 trillion and are poised to be the most significant philanthropists in history. This first-of-its-kind research examines the next generation of major donors and studies this crucial group directly, rather than summarizing what others think about them. The project aims to:


  • Reflect back to these donors what we hear them saying about themselves in order to help them become more proactive donors, stewards, grantmakers, and agents of social change.
  • Encourage and inform conversations among multiple generations involved in philanthropy today and in the future.
  • Help those who seek to engage and assist these next gen donors to do so in more effective and productive ways, to inspire them and help them make change.

The report looks to start a conversation with and about #nextgendonors. Learn more about the conversation and download the full report and other related publications at

Meet the Frey Chair: Michael Moody, Ph.D.

Michael MoodyIn July 2010, Michael Moody, Ph.D., joined the Johnson Center as the first holder of the Frey Foundation Chair for Family Foundations and Philanthropy.

Dr. Moody is trained as a cultural sociologist and has been actively working to understand and improve philanthropy and nonprofit organizations for 25 years. After earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Indiana University, he was one of the first employees of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. He then earned a master’s degree in social science from the University of Chicago and a doctorate in sociology from Princeton University, served on the faculty at Boston University and the University of Southern California, and ran his own philanthropic consulting business for two years.

Dr. Moody is co-author (with Robert L. Payton) of the book, Understanding Philanthropy: Its Meaning and Mission, as well as numerous other publications about family foundations, next generation giving, donor education, ethical giving, venture philanthropy, giving as “giving back,” and many other topics. He is a frequent speaker about philanthropy at venues across the U.S. and worldwide.

With Gratitude to the Frey Foundation

The Frey Foundation, based in Grand Rapids, is one of Michigan’s largest family foundations. Grants are provided to nonprofit organizations primarily in western Michigan for programs and initiatives to enhance children’s development, protect natural resources, promote the arts and expand philanthropic civic action. The Frey Foundation was established in 1974 by Edward J. and Frances T. Frey.