Their size alone conveys some sense of the significance of American foundations, whose assets amounted to over $530 billion in 2008 despite a dramatic decline of almost 22 percent in the previous year. And in 2008 foundation grants totaled over $45 billion. But what roles have foundations actually played over time, and what distinctive roles do they fill today? How have they shaped American society, how much difference do they make? What roles are foundations likely to play in the future?
This comprehensive volume, the product of a three-year project supported by the Aspen Institute's program on the Nonprofit Sector and Philanthropy, provides the most thorough effort ever to assess the impact and significance of the nation's large foundations. In it, leading researchers explore how foundations have shaped—or failed to shape—each of the key fields of foundation work.
American Foundations takes the reader on a wide-ranging tour, evaluating foundation efforts in education, scientific and medical research, health care, social welfare, international relations, arts and culture, religion, and social change.
Helmut K. Anheier is dean of the Hertie School of Governance, Berlin, academic director of the Center for Social Investment at Heidelberg University, and professor of public policy and social welfare at UCLA. He was previously a Centennial Professor at the London School of Economics, and a researcher at Johns Hopkins University. His publications include Creative Philanthropy, written with Diana Leat (Routledge, 2006) and Nonprofit Organizations (Routledge, 2010).
David C. Hammack is Hiram C. Haydn Professor of History at Case Western Reserve University, where he is also a leader of the Faculty Council of the Mandel Center for Nonprofit Organizations. He is past president of the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action. His books include Globalization, Philanthropy, and Civil Society, edited with Steven Heydemann (Indiana, 2009) and Making the Nonprofit Sector in the United States (Indiana, 2000).
While philanthropic foundations play important roles in other parts of the world, the U.S. sector stands out as exceptional. Nowhere else are they so numerous, prominent, or autonomous. What have been the main contributions of philanthropic foundations to American society? And what might the future hold for them?
A Versatile American Institution considers foundations in a new way. Previous accounts typically focused narrowly on their organization, donors, and leaders, and their intentions—but not on the outcome of philanthropy. Rather than looking at foundations in a vacuum, Hammack and Anheier consider their roles and contributions in the context of their times and their economic and political circumstances.
"This is a volume that everyone concerned about nonprofits—scholar, practitioner, and citizen—will find useful and illuminating."—Peter Dobkin Hall, Program on Non-Profit Organizations
Yale Divinity School
"A remarkable book."—Robert Putnam, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
[One to come from John Simon, School of Law, Yale University by Jan. 13th and others are being solicited.]
Unique among nations, America conducts almost all of its formally organized religious activity, and many cultural, arts, human service, educational, and research activities through private nonprofit organizations. Though partially funded by government, as well as by fees and donations, American nonprofits have pursued their missions with considerable independence. Many have amassed remarkable resources and acquired some of the most impressive hospital, university, performing arts, and museum facilities in the world. While some have amassed large endowments, many that surpass one billion dollars, there are also hundreds of thousands of small nonprofits, most with no tangible resources at all.
How did the United States come to rely so heavily on nonprofits? Why has it continued to do so? What purposes do Americans seek to advance through nonprofits? How have Americans sought to control them? How have nonprofits been effected by the growth of government in the twentieth century? These questions suggest the complexity of the history of nonprofits in the United States. To help explore that history, this reader presents some of the classic documents in the development of the nonprofit sector along with important interpretations by recent scholars. The selections can be considered a representative part of a single extended conversation by the men and women who have taken part in the effort to define America and the American dream, even as they shaped what we now call the nonprofit sector. The statements by participants in the growth and development of the nonprofit sector are accompanied by essays written by historians and social scientists that provide concise surveys of important issues and periods. The essays give voice to those whose contributions to the American debate about voluntary associations and private institutions would otherwise be difficult to find or comprehend.
The selections can be considered a representative part of a single extended conversation by the men and women who have taken part in the effort to define America and the American dream, even as they shaped what we now call the nonprofit sector. The statements by participants in the growth and development of the nonprofit sector are accompanied by essays written by historians and social scientists that provide concise surveys of important issues and periods. The essays give voice to those whose contributions to the American debate about voluntary associations and private institutions would otherwise be difficult to find or comprehend.
Each selection has been chosen to define or illuminate important questions in the development of the nonprofit sector in the United States. Many include criticisms of particular nonprofit efforts, or of nonprofit activity in general. The intention is to provoke thought, not to establish an official list of readings. Though not every point of view could be included, the reader does reflect a general understanding of the nature of the nonprofit sector and its significance in the development of the United States.
Philanthropic Studies—Dwight F. Burlingame and David C. Hammack, general editors