Case #2161.0

Alexandre Mars and Epic

Publication Date: June 11, 2019
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The case examines the strategy, impact, and sustainability of a boutique philanthropy with a big goal: change the way people donate to charities. Epic Foundation was founded to support a portfolio of children’s charities. Now, its leadership was considering taking on a broader role: to reshape the very nature of charitable giving—in the U.S., France, the United Kingdom and globally. Its wealthy, charismatic leader, Alexandre Mars, thought that Epic could be at the forefront of a movement to transform the global culture of giving. But there was an open question among the fundraising, communications and marketing teams at Epic about how to jockey between the management and growth of its portfolio and this new advocacy orientation. It was unclear whether Epic could simultaneously pursue both. Should Epic continue to grow and possibly diversify its portfolio of charities, or should it focus more on an advocacy model? Mars wanted to advocate for “making giving the norm”—a call for citizens to make frequent charitable donations through work, point-of-purchase and online channels. But were Epic’s ideas truly innovative when it came to fostering this giving norm and was it positioned to advocate for it?

Learning Objective:
Students are asked to grapple with questions such as: Can Epic truly change norms and behavior around philanthropic giving? What makes Epic, under its charismatic founder’s leadership, the right organization to take on the challenge of driving social change? How should Epic’s impact be assessed?

Other Details

Teaching Plan:
Available with Educator Access
Case Authors:
Laura Winig
Faculty Leads:
Julie Battilana and Christopher Marquis
Pages (incl. exhibits):
United States
Funding Source:
The Joseph B. Tompkins, Jr. Fund for Case Study and Research