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American Foundations: Roles and Contributions

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ISBN-13: 978-0815703396
ISBN-10: 0815703392
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American Foundations: Roles and Contributions + The Insider's Guide to Grantmaking + Strategic Giving: The Art and Science of Philanthropy
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Editorial Reviews


This book is about what foundations actually do both well and not well. And that is, as David Hammack has suggested, all too uncommon in discussions about foundations
SUSAN OSTRANDER, at the Hudson Institute.

an excellent inside view on the efforts that foundations have made in different fields of activities. Luc Tayart de Borms, ALLIANCE MAGAZINE

an important lesson from this volume is that resources alone do not yield influence. The examples in this book highlight the ways that the potential influence of a foundation is shaped by its choice of policy area, investment strategy, and interaction with government and other organizations. . . .  a remarkably comprehensive resource for scholars and practitioners who are interested in philanthropy and the nonprofit sector.

"Through a series of papers alternating between historical perspective and policy analysis, this publication provides a comprehensive look at the impact of large U.S. foundations on major social issues, many of which have been influenced by movements, including education, health care, social welfare, religion and movement building itself."
                  -- Rachel Mosher-Williams, GRANTMAKERS FOR EFFECTIVE ORGANIZATIONS

From the Inside Flap

Foundations play an essential part in the philanthropic activity that defines so much of American life.  No other nation provides its foundations with so much autonomy and freedom of action as does the United States.  Liberated both from the daily discipline of the market and from direct control by government, American foundations understandably attract great attention.  As David Hammack and Helmut Anheier note in this volume, "Americans have criticized foundations for . . . their alleged conservatism, liberalism, elitism, radicalism, devotion to religious tradition, hostility to religion--in short, for commitments to causes whose significance can be measured, in part, by the controversies they provoke.  Americans have also criticized foundations for ineffectiveness and even foolishness."

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 full today?  How have they shaped American society, and 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.

See all Editorial Reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 457 pages
  • Publisher: Brookings Institution Press (March 24, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0815703392
  • ISBN-13: 978-0815703396
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,707,968 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David C. Hammack's histories of cities and of nonprofit organizations aim to show how the past has shaped important aspects of the present, both good and bad. Now Haydn Professor of History at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, he studied at Harvard, Columbia, and Reed, worked in building construction and a frozen food warehouse, and taught in high schools. He has served on the faculties of Princeton, the City U. of NY, and the U. of Houston, and has been a Guggenheim Fellow and a Visiting Fellow at Yale's Program on Non-Profit Organizations. In 2012 he won the Assn for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action's award for distinguished achievement; at CWRU he won the Diekhoff Award for Distinguished Graduate Teaching.

Hammack's newest book is a concise history: A VERSATILE AMERICAN INSTITUTION: THE CHANGING IDEALS AND REALITIES OF PHILANTHROPIC FOUNDATIONS (with Helmut Anheier). AMERICAN FOUNDATIONS: STUDIES ON ROLES AND CONTRIBUTIONS (with Anheier) has 18 chapters on foundations in nine distinct fields from K-12 education to Medicine to the Arts. SOCIAL SCIENCE IN THE MAKING: ESSAYS ON THE RUSSELL SAGE FOUNDATION (with Stanton Wheeler), came in 1994.

The extensive introductions and classic short texts of MAKING THE NONPROFIT SECTOR IN THE UNITED STATES: A READER (1998) have won wide acceptance. NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS IN A MARKET ECONOMY (with Dennis R. Young, 1993), helped consolidate research on nonprofit economics. GLOBALIZATION, PHILANTHROPY, AND CIVIL SOCIETY: PROJECTING INSTITUTIONAL LOGICS ABROAD, (with Steven Heydemann of the U.S. Institute for Peace, 2009) explores environmental affairs, conflict-resolution, and social entrepreneurship.

David Hammack's studies of urban history include POWER AND SOCIETY: GREATER NEW YORK AT THE TURN OF THE CENTURY (nominated for a Pulitzer Prize), and CLEVELAND FROM STARTUP TO THE PRESENT: INNOVATION AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP, (with Michael Fogarty and Gaspar Garofalo), at His comparisons of U.S. with European cities and nonprofits are included in Bender and Schorske's BUDAPEST & NEW YORK: STUDIES IN METROPOLITAN TRANSFORMATION, in Adam's PHILANTHROPY, PATRONAGE, AND CIVIL SOCIETY: EXPERIENCES FROM GERMANY, GREAT BRITAIN, AND NORTH AMERICA, and in NONPROFIT AND VOLUNTARY SECTOR QUARTERLY, 2001.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
To push forward a goal or agenda has become quite villainized in today's world. "American Foundations: Roles and Contributions" looks at Foundations in America and what they have done to further America throughout history. From furthering education for hundreds of years to push it further in the world, to health care issues, to social welfare, foreign issues, culture, and more. Foundations have stood for issues on all of these things but today, they are attacked by many sides for their political affiliation and status, often on the front of anti-intellectualism. "American Foundations" is both an intriguing read and scholarly analysis of the debate, making for a vital addition to any community or college library social issues collection.
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