“The Interview Inspired, Shocked, and Moved Me”: Philanthropic Informational Interviews as a Pandemic Alternative to Service-Learning


  • Genevieve G. Shaker Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy
  • Meng-Han Ho National Taiwan University
  • Chen Ji Louisiana State University Shreveport




service-learning, Covid-19 teaching, informational interview, learning outcomes, nonprofit and philanthropic studies education


The COVID-19 pandemic upended college classrooms, challenging instructors to deliver classes differently while still seeking to achieve pre-planned goals. Service-learning instructors faced a quandary: discontinuing activities could compromise course integrity, but requiring service was impossible, impractical, or inappropriate. Creative solutions were needed. This study explored the learning outcomes from a replacement activity, the philanthropic informational interview, in a philanthropy general education class and asked whether it could generate outcomes similar to service-learning. Data were drawn from student reflections (n = 145) from nine online course sections between spring 2020 and summer 2021. Thematic analysis identified eight learning outcomes: engaging with social issues, nonprofit solutions to social issues, insights into nonprofits’ innerworkings, philanthropy as everyone’s responsibility, enhanced empathetic understanding, value-driven career inspiration, developing interview skills, and building career capacities. These outcomes align with research about service-learning and suggest that the philanthropic informational interview can be a meaningful alternative to service-learning in some situations.