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The School of Social Policy and Practice’s Center for High Impact Philanthropy is helping philanthropists get the biggest bang for their buck.

The Center released a guide, titled “High Impact Philanthropy in the Downturn: Focus on Housing, Health & Hunger,” on Nov. 16. It aims to provide research opportunities and contact information to philanthropists to help them help financially-strapped families.

The guide focuses on three issues: preventing foreclosures, maintaining primary and preventative health programs and guaranteeing access to food.

“All three of those areas are ones where you can address the need now and prevent immediate suffering,” said Katherina Rosqueta, executive director at Penn’s Center for High Impact Philanthropy. “If you don’t address needs now, you’re going to see some very big long-term costs and problems.”

Carol McLaughlin, the Center’s research director of global public health, emphasized that “in addition to presenting evidence based solutions,” the guide helps philanthropists find and contact local non-profits, like community-health centers and emergency food providers.

Rosqueta began working on the guide with her team this past summer. She said investing in these areas at this moment in time “is not just a band-aid — it’s actually an investment in stronger communities.”

SP2 Dean Richard Gelles, who helped develop and edit the guide, praised Rosqueta and her team for their final product.

“It was timely, it was scientifically sound and it was accessible,” Gelles said. “If you were a philanthropist who didn’t want to read pages after pages after pages of science and wanted to know what to do that would be meaningful, this report really would be valuable.”

He added that although the recession has ended in the sense that “things aren’t deteriorating anymore,” unemployment continues to rise and will likely “stay up for at least two to three years.”

The guide “has at least a 36-month shelf life” for philanthropists concerned with the negative effects of unemployment on housing, food sufficiency and health care, he said.

“There really isn’t anything like this out in the world,” Gelles said. “So much of philanthropy is based on anecdotes and guesses and hypotheses with no data to inform what’s the best thing to do that there really isn’t anything that I know of that exists that is comparable to this report.”

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