Vikki Spruill, Council on Foundations

Twitter = @VikkiSpruill

Vikki Spruill is the president and CEO of the Council on Foundations, a national nonprofit association of grantmaking foundations and corporations. As a national organization with a large and diverse membership, the Council possesses a unique ability to offer strategic leadership for philanthropy, as it engages in the U.S. and globally. To this end, the Council amplifies how foundations address some of the world’s greatest challenges and advance social change, advocates for legislation and regulations that encourage charitable giving, and strengthens the sector by helping foundations be more effective grantmakers and challenging them to embrace new thinking and approaches.

Prior to the Council, Vikki served as president and CEO of the Ocean Conservancy, a science-based education and citizen empowerment organization aimed at preserving a healthy ocean. Vikki's efforts to build significant public support for ocean health continue to impact policymakers' decisions and make science-based conservation a priority.

Today, Vikki speaks to the Philanthropy Hour on the work of the Council on Foundations, how they represent all of various grantmakers across the country, and how they provide effective resources. Vikki addresses the impact and value of American philanthropy in general, as well as the importance of charitable giving. She discusses some of the emerging trends in philanthropy, and how Foundations are responding to these different charitable vehicles. She has a great understanding of the philanthropic climate, and what it will take to advocate on behalf of the sector. 



In this interview, we discuss:

  1. The Council on Foundations mission to amplify, advocate, and strengthen the giving sector (2:30)
  2. The Commonfund study of Investments of Endowments. (6:00)
  3. Some of their activity around impact investing.  (15:15)
  4. COF advocacy and legislative positions, including the private Foundation excise tax and the IRA rollover to donor advised funds (20:00)
  5. How the COF is all things to all people, and how it must responds to the various needs and interests of the grant making community.  (27:30)
  6. What motivates giving in this country, and how can we all do more?  (31:45)


“I am genuinely moved by the power and promise of philanthropy and the way in which we can help foundations be more effective at being the engine of social change.”  -Vikki Spruill


  1. Council on Foundations Resources
  2. Commonfund study of Investments of Endowments Report Here
  3. The COF public policy advocacy toolkit
  4. Build Brand Identify For Causes Not Groups article in Chronicle of Philanthropy.
  5. Book recommendations:  "Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America" by Eugene Robinson  (Amazon link) and "Hillbilly Elegy" by J.D. Vance (Amazon link)


If you enjoy The Philanthropy Hour, please leave a review or a rating on iTunes. I read every review and it helps to make the podcast better.

Join thousands of others who watch the interviews and receive great fundraising resources...Get inspired!