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Name Change from 'Social Welfare Research Institute' to 'Center on Wealth and Philanthropy'

swri becomes cwp

The change in name to the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy catches up with the increasingly exclusive focus of our work over the past two decades on the trends, meaning, motivations, and practice of wealth and philanthropy. It also coincides with a new program of executive education that we will be offering to wealth holders, fundraisers, and financial professionals.

Although we have been prompted now and again by insightful colleagues to consider a name that more accurately reflects the substance of work, we resisted. After all, were not our studies on wealth and philanthropy in fact directly connected to understanding and shaping the social welfare of contemporary society?

Last March the center’s national Advisory Board initiated a discussion on the center’s name. The Board suggested that the title of the Social Welfare Research Institute, notwithstanding the broader connotation of social welfare, come to reflect more transparently its mission. The board saw from the outside what John Havens and I could not see from the inside. Our venerable title invited the potential misunderstanding that SWRI’s study of wealth and philanthropy was tied to a welfare policy agenda concerned with family assistance, poverty, unemployment, and low-wage work. More importantly, Social Welfare Research Institute did not readily communicate to the public, the academic community, nonprofits, and funders our unique mission: the discovery, communication, and application of knowledge on wealth and philanthropy, and, more fundamentally, on the issues of capacity and care.

In deciding upon our new name, we elicited the advice of many individuals inside and outside of Boston College. The counsel we received was unanimous in advising that the appellation be parsimonious, reference the topics of our research, and indicate our objective to be a site from which information emanates as well as a place where people will gather for education and reflection. The title, Center on Wealth and Philanthropy, meets each of these criteria and has thus far been met with a positive response.