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The Bridgespan Group

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The Bridgespan Group
FoundersThomas Tierney, Jeffrey Bradach, Paul Carttar
Headquarters2 Copley Place
Boston, Massachusetts, United States
ServicesManagement consulting, Philanthrocapitalism

The Bridgespan Group is a U.S. nonprofit organization headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts that provides management consulting to nonprofits and philanthropists.[1][2] In addition to consulting, Bridgespan makes case studies freely available on its website and publications.[3]

Bridgespan was launched in 1999 by Thomas Tierney, formerly managing director of Bain & Company, professor Jeffrey Bradach, from Harvard Business School, and Paul Carttar, formerly a vice president at Bain & Company.[1][4] The organization has received substantial support from Bain, with whom it has maintained a close relationship. The firm has six offices worldwide.[5]


Bridgespan grew from a desire by Bain & Company to expand their support of nonprofits.[6] The idea started by doing occasional pro bono work for nonprofits. Bain consultant Thomas Tierney had been involved with nonprofit work since the 1980s. After becoming worldwide managing director, Tierney began to focus his attention on consulting for charities. Between 1995 and 1999, three studies about the nonprofit market were conducted. Establishing an industry concentration within Bain & Company was considered and rejected. Instead the decision was made to create an allied, yet still independent, entity called the Bridgespan Group.[2]

In 1996, co-founder Jeff Bradach, a business professor and former Bain consultant, joined the company. In 1998, co-founder Paul Carttar, a former Bain Partner, joined. Tierney pitched the idea of forming Bridgespan to his partners in 1999. He emphasized his desire for an ongoing partnership with Bain, which would accrue benefits (e.g., recruitment as well as public relations). Bain provided Bridgespan with a one million dollar grant for the first three years, in addition to administrative support and several loaned employees ("externs").[2][7] The organization was also initially supported by grants from the Surdna Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation and the Atlantic Philanthropies.[1]

It has advised Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Ford Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Rockefeller Foundation, YMCA of the USA, The Salvation Army, and the Sesame Workshop.[5][8]

The group launched its first website, www.bridgespan.org, in 2000 and started operations from a Boston-based office. By fall of 2000, the organization had 27 employees and had opened an office in San Francisco. Their services emphasized analytical consulting. Even with substantial subsidies, the assignments were sometimes too expensive for small charities with foundations often funding the work for the charities they supported.[2]

In 2003, Bridgespan created the "Bridgestar" initiative that focused on leadership development and professional's transition into nonprofit careers.[9] The Bridgestar.org site merged with Bridgespan.org in 2012.[6]

In 2005, it received 1,700 applications for 18 positions while claiming that they can only serve 10% of the domestic US demand.[4]

In 2007 Bridgespan opened an office in New York.

In 2022 The Economist published "Bridgespan Group: the most powerful consultants you've never heard of" which mentioned work with MacKenzie Scott and cited annual revenue of $59m and 329 employees in 2000.[10]

Current operations[edit]

The Bridgespan Group's website is organized into several learning centers, focusing on particular aspects of nonprofit management, such as hiring, strategy and funding. The site is interactive and includes free access to resources—articles, podcasts, videos, Q&A sessions, as well as several Bridgespan case studies.[1][3][11] The website also features an online job board.[1]

The organization claims it specializes in helping clients to effect the greatest possible change with their charitable donations. It advises clients against spreading donations too thinly so "that they have no real impact."[12]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Want a Business Plan? Log on for Free Advice", The New York Times, November 10, 2008, retrieved August 21, 2013
  2. ^ a b c d The Bridgespan Group (PDF), Bain & Company, November 1, 2000, archived from the original (PDF) on November 1, 2013, retrieved August 21, 2013
  3. ^ a b "Doing Well and Doing Good A Conversation with Jeff Bradach and Tom Tierney, co-founders of Bridgespan", Wellesley Weston Magazine, August 6, 2010, retrieved August 21, 2013
  4. ^ a b "Virtue's intermediaries", The Economist, February 23, 2006, retrieved August 21, 2013
  5. ^ a b "Bridgespan Group: the most powerful consultants you've never heard of". The Economist. December 22, 2021. Retrieved 24 December 2021. A non-profit consultancy, Bridgespan was spun out of Bain & Company, a management consultancy, around 21 years ago by three people, including a former worldwide managing partner.
  6. ^ a b "Bridgespan Non-Profit Consulting Interviews and Culture". Management Consulted. 2014-12-07. Retrieved 2020-05-08.
  7. ^ The Transformers, HBS Alumni Bulletin, December 2010, retrieved September 3, 2013
  8. ^ Kulish, Nicholas (2021-11-15). "The Consulting Firm Billionaires Turn to When They Give Away Money". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-08-13.
  9. ^ "Wanted: nonprofit leaders", The Christian Science Monitor, August 13, 2007, retrieved August 21, 2013
  10. ^ https://www.economist.com/united-states/2022/01/01/bridgespan-group-the-most-powerful-consultants-youve-never-heard-of
  11. ^ "Federal Cuts Likely to Shut Down Some Charities, Report Warns", The Chronicle of Philanthropy, January 15, 2012, retrieved August 21, 2013
  12. ^ "Helping Make Clients' Philanthropy Count", The Wall Street Journal, April 13, 2011, retrieved August 21, 2013