Bruce Levenson: Professionalizing in Philanthropy

Back in 2010, Bruce Levenson started an initiative called the Do Good Institute at the University of Maryland. In a recent interview published on, Levenson gives an update on the project. Levenson, the former owner of the Atlanta Hawks, wants to promote professionalism among future nonprofit leaders.

Bruce Levenson didn’t just talk about his idea. He provided $75 million in seed funding to get the Do Good Institute started. The state of Maryland kicked in another $20 million. According to Levenson, there are a lot of good people and organizations with great potential in the nonprofit sector. All too many lack the business skills to be effective in a largely profit-driven marketplace. Changing this is Levenson’s goal.

According to another article from PR News, the project is transforming the University of Maryland campus. It is built around a hands-on approach. In a course called Philanthropy 101, students are given $10,000 to support a cause of their choice. Some students have started initiatives to reduce waste and make “imperfect” or unsightly produce available to consumers at low prices.The Do Good Institute has spawned a popular major in the area of nonprofit management and entrepreneurship. Levenson points out that this sort of initiative also helps keep the physical campus relevant in an era of alternative and online education options.

Bruce Levenson ( is no stranger to entrepreneurial projects. He began his career in 1977, working out of his Maryland apartment. There he produced a business information newsletter called Oil Express. He built this modest beginning into United Communications Group. UCG is now one of the largest privately held business information firms in America. It serves firms in the energy, telecommunications and other sectors.

Levenson’s other philanthropic activities include the I Have a Dream Foundation and the U.S. Holocaust Museum. Levenson sold the Atlanta Hawks in 2014 and now devotes more time to philanthropy.

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