Michael Moody Ph.D.

Michael Moody, Ph.D., is the Frey Foundation Chair for Family Philanthropy at the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA. The Frey Foundation Chair is the world’s first-ever endowed chair for family philanthropy, and Dr. Moody became the first holder of the chair in 2010.

Dr. Moody serves as an accessible guide to the rapidly evolving and complex landscape of philanthropy and social innovation, helping diverse audiences see the vital role that giving plays in society, and expanding both the practice and understanding of family philanthropy. He straddles the worlds of scholarship and practice, shining a light on the connections between giving and lived experience with both expertise and enthusiasm.

Dr. Moody is trained as a cultural sociologist, with a Ph.D. from Princeton, and has been actively working to understand and improve philanthropy and nonprofit organizations for almost 30 years. He is co-author of the books Generation Impact: How Next Gen Donors Are Revolutionizing Giving (with Sharna Goldseker, 2017), The Philanthropy Reader (with Beth Breeze, 2016), and Understanding Philanthropy: Its Meaning and Mission (with Robert L. Payton, 2008). He is a frequent speaker at venues across the U.S. and worldwide, and a sought-after commentator on philanthropic trends and research. His work has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chronicle of Philanthropy, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Forbes, Alliance, and elsewhere.

Dr. Moody earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Indiana University, where he then became one of the first employees of the university’s renowned Center on Philanthropy, helping to create the Jane Addams Fellows Program. He received a master’s in social science from the University of Chicago, and his doctoral work at Princeton focused on philanthropic giving and nonprofit organizations. Prior to becoming the Frey Foundation Chair, Dr. Moody held faculty positions at Boston University and the University of Southern California, where he was a faculty fellow at the USC Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy. He also founded Moody Philanthropic Consulting based in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to his books about the theory and social role of philanthropy and donors, his other publications focus on family foundations, venture philanthropy, ethical giving, the notion of “giving back,” donor education, nonprofit advocacy, and many other topics.

Dr. Moody lives with his wife in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and balances a life of the mind by practicing kung fu and hitting golf balls and drums, though rarely at the same time.

Areas of Expertise 

  • Philanthropy
  • Family Philanthropy
  • Family Foundations

Media & Mentions