Speaking and Training

Need an outside expert to enlighten your board or foundation members? How about a provocative, engaging voice at your next big convening? Philanthropy expert Kris Putnam-Walkerly, author of Confident Giving: Sage Advice for Funders and her forthcoming book, Delusional Altruism, regularly shares her knowledge on virtually every aspect of grantmaking with a variety of audiences. Confident Giving was recently named one of the 10 Best Corporate Social Responsibility Books.

Recently named one of America’s Top 25 Philanthropy Speakers, Kris has been a featured presenter at the North Carolina Network of Grantmakers, Exponent Philanthropy, Foundation Center, Southeastern Council of Foundations, Northern California Grantmakers, Northeastern Pennsylvania Grantmakers Forum, Philanthropy Ohio, Philanthropy Northwest, Donors Forum of Illinois, Iowa Funders Group, and National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers. She has also presented to and trained the boards of many foundations, including The California Wellness Foundation, Cleveland Foundation, California HealthCare Foundation, Moses Taylor Foundation, Ohio State Bar Foundation, and Stroke Awareness Foundation.

Keynote, workshop, and board training topics include:

  • Delusional Altruism
  • 5 Best Practices of Extraordinary Grantmakers
  • How Foundations are Embracing Equity
  • Streamlining Philanthropy
  • Philanthropic Innovation (It’s Not an Oxymoron)
  • Does Your Giving Have a Poverty or an Abundance Mentality?
  • Improving Customer Service in Philanthropy
  • Grantmaking Essentials
  • The Philanthropy Planning Life Cycle
  • Learn, Rinse, Repeat: 5 Techniques for Continuous Learning and Improvement at Your Foundation
  • 6 Mistakes New Foundation Boards Make, and How To Avoid Them
  • 10 Essential Roles of Foundation Boards
  • How To Transition from a Hospital Board to a Foundation Board
  • Philanthropy Boom: How To Prepare Now for the Greatest Intergenerational Transfer of Wealth

Have another topic in mind? Just ask!

Want to learn more? Download Kris’s speaker packet.

Book Kris


Kris is great at making the complex easy to understand, and helps grantmakers shift their thinking to embrace new possibilities and opportunities. Her presentations to our board and grantmakers association were engaging, informative and inspiring, and have set us all on a clearer path toward effectiveness.
LaTida Smith, CEO, Moses Taylor Foundation
LaTida Smith

Upcoming Speaking Engagements

February 8, 2017 Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy Webinar

Getting Out of Our Own Way for Greater Impact

Description: In these demanding times, effective grantmaking is more important than ever. Join Kris Putnam-Walkerly, experienced philanthropy advisor and author of Confident Giving, to surface and break through the bad habits and well-intended follies that stand between our work and greater impact, including:

  • Moving away from scarcity-based approaches to foundation management
  • Cutting out unnecessary complexity and bureaucratic waste, and
  • Reforming processes that unintentionally disrespect our grantees
February 21, 2017 National Summit on Family Philanthropy, Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy (San Francisco)

Unintended Consequences: How to Avoid a Legacy of Disrespect and Delusion

Description: This provocative session will explore how family foundations may be unwittingly creating a culture of disrespect – and even damage – as a result of some common, seemingly harmless foundation practices. You’ll also learn about the problematic mindset of “delusional altruism” and how it can hamper progress toward your mission. You’ll leave with simple changes your foundation can make to avoid these pitfalls, increase your impact, and enhance your legacy as a valued community partner.

March 2, 2017 Philanthropy Ohio Webinar

Let’s Talk Philanthropy: The Road to Equity

Description: The philanthropic community – like much of America – is increasingly talking about equity, and foundations are incorporating equity in their internal operations as well as their grantmaking. This edition of Let’s Talk Philanthropy explores highlights from The Road to Achieving Equity: Findings and Lessons from a Field Scan of Foundations That Are Embracing Equity, a report presenting key findings and practices gleaned from conversations with leaders of 15 foundations on the forefront in embracing equity.

Join Putnam Consulting Group President Kris Putnam-Walkerly, MSW, and president and CEO of Philanthropy Ohio, Suzanne Allen, Ph.D., as they discuss the findings of this groundbreaking effort.

By participating in this program you will:

  • Learn how a common language around equity can be key to your success; and
  • Gain insight into best practices you can use to focus on equity in your organization.
March 8, 2017 Philanthropy New York (New York City)

“Achieving Equity…How Exactly?”

Description: The idea of incorporating equity in philanthropy is gaining traction in the field. The reasons why may be obvious – from longstanding commitments to helping those most marginalized to recent electoral outcomes. But the how of embracing equity can prove elusive – especially when foundations turn that equity lens inward. What does equity “look like” inside a foundation? Where is the best place to start? How do foundations bring all of their staff on board with an equity agenda – especially if an explicit focus on equity is something new and different? What are the biggest challenges in incorporating equity? What are examples of equitable practices that have been successfully implemented? In this session, you’ll hear what foundations are doing broadly to incorporate equity internally, as well as ways three specific funders are making equity a part of their day-to-day operations.

Kris Putnam-Walkerly, global philanthropy advisor, will present findings from her recent field scan, “The Road to Achieving Equity,” conducted on behalf of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. She will be joined by Samantha Gilbert, Vice President of Talent and Human Resources, The Ford Foundation; William Cordery, Program Officer for Strong Local Economies, Surdna Foundation; and Edgar Villanueva, Vice President of Programs and Advocacy, The Schott Foundation. These foundation leaders will share how their institutions are making operational changes in order to incorporate equity in ways that encourage staff, better support grantees and partners, and achieve their missions. Participants will have the opportunity for small group discussions and a chance to ask deeper questions of each panelist, as they create their own plan for next steps to address equity within your own foundation.

March 15, 2017 The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers

“Racial Equity & Philanthropy: Achieving Equity…How Exactly?”

Description: The idea of incorporating equity in philanthropy is gaining traction in the field, but the “how” of embracing equity can prove elusive – especially when foundations turn that equity lens inward. What does equity “look like” inside a foundation? Where is the best place to start? How do foundations bring all of their staff on board with an equity agenda – especially if an explicit focus on equity is something new and different? What are the biggest challenges in incorporating equity? What are examples of equitable practices that have been successfully implemented? In this session, you’ll hear what foundations are doing broadly to incorporate equity internally, as well as ways ABAG funders are making equity a part of their day-to-day operations. Then, you’ll have the opportunity for small group discussions and a chance to ask deeper questions of each panelist, as you create your own plan for next steps to address equity within your own foundation.

Kris Putnam-Walkerly, global philanthropy advisor, will present findings from her recent field scan, “The Road to Achieving Equity,” conducted on behalf of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. She will be joined by Nonet T. Sykes, Director, Race Equity and Inclusion, the Annie E. Casey Foundation; and Kevin Griffin Moreno, Interim Director of Community Investment, Baltimore Community Foundation, who will share how their institutions are making operational changes in order to incorporate equity in ways that encourage staff, better support grantees and partners, and achieve their missions.

RECENT Speaking Engagements

January 19, 2017 National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers Webinar

Equity: Philanthropy’s New Buzz Word or the Key to Achieving your Foundation’s Mission

Description: Equity is a trending topic in philanthropy, but many foundations are struggling to understand exactly what it means and how to address it. How are foundations incorporating equity into their work? What practices must they embrace internally in order to become truly equitable externally? What hurdles are they encountering on their equity journeys and how are they navigating through difficult conversations?

In this session, NNCG chair Kris Putnam-Walkerly will present the findings of an equity field scan her firm recently completed, and discuss several key points that the scan revealed about how foundations are incorporating equity into their internal operations. She will be joined by Nonet Sykes, Director of Race Equity and Inclusion at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, who will share that foundation’s groundbreaking and field-leading work in addressing and incorporating equity. Sykes will discuss the steps Casey is taking to infuse equity throughout the organization, as well as pitfalls and lessons learned.

January 26, 2017 Colorado Association of Funders, Denver, CO

Exploring Equity

Description: During this workshop and panel discussion, Kris Putnam-Walkerly will share findings from her recent report “Findings and Lessons From a Field Scan of Foundations That Are Embracing Equity.” Ned Calonge, President and CEO of The Colorado Trust and Karen McNeil-Miller, President and CEO of The Colorado Health Foundation will share their foundations’ experiences incorporating an equity lens into their grantmaking and foundation operations.

December 8, 2016 Fund for Our Economic Future, Cleveland OH

“Equity: Philanthropy’s New Buzz Word or the Key to Achieving your Foundation’s Mission”

Description: During this private, all-member meeting, Kris Putnam-Walkerly will share findings from her recent report “Findings and Lessons From a Field Scan of Foundations That Are Embracing Equity” and will be joined by other foundation leaders who will share their experiences incorporating an equity lens into their grantmaking and operations.

December 13, 2016 National Center for Family Philanthropy

Equity, Transparency, and Connecting with Community in Family Philanthropy

Description: This webinar for family foundations will feature a conversation on strategies for connecting with community and building an equity lens into your Grantmaking and internal operations. Kris Putnam-Walkerly will be joined by Patrick Troska, Executive Director of the Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation

October 17, 2016 North Carolina Network of Grantmakers’ Health Legacy Foundation Board Summit, High Point, NC

“Essential Roles of Foundation Boards”

Description: At this dynamic and provocative session staff and board members of emerging health legacy foundations will learn:

  • How to manage – and exceed – expectations
  • Ten essential roles of foundation boards and board members
  • Six mistakes new foundation boards make, and how to avoid them
  • The power dynamic of being the funder
September 21, 2016 Ohio State Bar Foundation, Columbus, OH

“Responsive, Strategic, or Both?”

Description: This private training for a foundation board will define responsive and strategic grantmaking, the pros and cons of each, when it’s appropriate to be responsive to community needs and when it’s best to identify and focus on specific issues, 4 ways foundations to combine strategic and responsive approaches, real-life examples of responsive and strategic grantmaking at other foundations, 5 mistakes to avoid when focusing your grantmaking, the role of the Board in strategic grantmaking, and identification of actionable next steps.

September 28, 2016 Exponent Philanthropy National Conference, Chicago, IL

“High Risk, High Return: How to Fulfill the Promise of ‘Research & Development’ Style Philanthropy”

Description: A cadre of small-staffed funders are experimenting with philanthropy that counts money as only one of many assets. They achieve impact by developing deep knowledge, engaging with the community, taking bold risks, and constantly evolving their approach as they listen, learn, and stay close to the action. Discover the practices and mindset of a “research and development” approach to philanthropy.

April 20, 2016 NEPA Alliance Grantmakers Forum, Scranton PA

“5 Practices of Extraordinary Grantmakers”

Description: This provocative session for foundation CEOs and trustees will address: Creating a culture of innovation, having an abundance vs. poverty mentality, streamlining operations, intentionally learning and improving, and collaborating with other funders for impact.

April 21, 2016 Moses Taylor Foundation Scranton, PA

“Good Grantmaking”

Description: This private board training for a new healthy legacy foundation will cover strategic vs responsive grantmaking; the strategy development lifecycle; continuous learning and improvement; and the funder’s toolbox; tools to achieve impact beyond money.

January 21, 2016 Moses Taylor Foundation, Scranton, PA

“Don’t Do This: 6 Mistakes New Foundation Boards Make, and How To Avoid Them”

Description: This private board training for a new healthy legacy foundation covered 10 essential roles of foundation boards and directors; similarities and differences between foundation boards and other nonprofit or hospital boards; common mistakes made by foundation boards; systems and processes to put in place now; and how to make the complex simple, not the simple complex.

November 12, 2015 Southeastern Council on Foundations Annual Conference, Asheville, NC

“Tips, Tools and Lessons on Multimedia Storytelling”

Description: This panel will explore how the effective use of multimedia storytelling and social media can help a foundation highlight its work, inform grantees, and create an environment for shared learning and experiences. Panelists will share insights, tips and strategies as they look at examples from large and small foundations to distill the most successful elements of storytelling across platforms. Attendees will leave with a list of online tools they can take back to their teams to help execute a strategic approach to digital content.

September 25, 2015 Donors Forum of Illinois, Chicago, IL

“The Value of Philanthropy Consulting”

Description: Presentation and conversation about the first-ever survey on philanthropy consulting by the Foundation Center, highlighting the responses of over 1,000 grantmakers throughout the United States.

October 7, 2015 Exponent Philanthropy – CONNECT Conference
Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa, Chandler, AZ

“Grantmaking Essentials”

Description: Grantmaking is most effective when you have a process, but the process shouldn’t overwhelm you or your nonprofit partners, or create barriers to learning. Find out how to develop a structured process that fits your mission, goals, capacity, and style of operating.

June 18, 2015 Exponent Philanthropy 

“Let It Go: Rethink Your Grantmaking Processes to Reclaim Your Edge”

Description: Do you feel bogged down in grantmaking? Do you feel that, in processing applications, reports, and evaluations—in dotting every i and crossing every t—you have lost track of your philanthropy’s purpose and soul? Do you want to spend more time in the community, meeting grantees, talking with knowledgeable people, getting insights, and building relationships—enjoying your work? On this conference call you will: Gain perspectives from experienced funders about what practices are truly important to make impact and change (and what to let go), and discover how to cut through the clutter of philanthropy and free yourself to reclaim your agility, creativity, and edge.

November 21, 2014 Philanthropy Ohio 

“5 Trends on the Philanthropic Horizon”

Description: Join our virtual tour of five trends that are likely to affect your philanthropic practice in the next few years. While no one can predict exactly what’s going to happen in the future, seasoned philanthropy veteran Kris Putnam-Walkerly promises you a glance into her “semi-opaque crystal ball.”

October 9, 2014 Philanthropy Ohio – Cleveland, OH

“Philanthropy 2.0: Strategic Investments in Human Capital”

Description: At this meeting, Kris Putnam-Walkerly, a nationally-recognized leader in philanthropic program design, implementation, evaluation and communications, will lead us through a case study focused on increasing mission impact via strategic investments in human capital. We’ll also explore the talent and leadership development pipeline and its specific relationship to the sector.