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.
Sarah Reckhow, SOCIAL SERVICE REVIEW
"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."
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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.