American Foundations: An Investigative History

American Foundations: An Investigative History

by Mark Dowie
     
 

ISBN-10: 0262041898

ISBN-13: 9780262041898

Pub. Date: 04/16/2001

Publisher: MIT Press

In American Foundations, Mark Dowie argues that organized philanthropy is on the verge of an evolutionary shift that will transform America's nearly 50,000 foundations from covert arbiters of knowledge and culture to overt mediators of public policy and aggressive creators of new orthodoxy. He questions the wisdom of placing so much power at the disposal

Overview

In American Foundations, Mark Dowie argues that organized philanthropy is on the verge of an evolutionary shift that will transform America's nearly 50,000 foundations from covert arbiters of knowledge and culture to overt mediators of public policy and aggressive creators of new orthodoxy. He questions the wisdom of placing so much power at the disposal of nondemocratic institutions.

As American wealth expands, old foundations such as Ford, Carnegie, Rockefeller, Pew, and MacArthur have grown exponentially, while newer trusts such as Mott, Johnson, Packard, Kellogg, Hughes, Annenberg, Hewlitt, Duke, and Gates have surpassed them. Foundation assets now total close to $400 billion. Though this is a tiny sum compared to corporate and government treasuries, and foundation grants still total less than 10 percent of contributions made by individuals, foundations have power and influence far beyond their wealth. Their influence derives from the conditional nature of their grant making, their power from its leverage.

Unlike previous historians of philanthropy who have focused primarily on the grant maker, Dowie examines foundations from the public's perspective. He focuses on eight key areas in which foundations operate: education, science, health, environment, food, energy, art, and human services. He also looks at their imagination, or lack thereof, and at the strained relationship between American foundations and American democracy.

Dowie believes that foundations deserve to exist and that they can assume an increasingly vital role in American society, but only if they transform themselves from private to essentially public institutions. Thereforms he proposes to make foundations more responsive to pressing social problems and more accountable to the public will almost certainly start an important national debate.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780262041898
Publisher:
MIT Press
Publication date:
04/16/2001
Pages:
360
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.75(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Table of Contents

Prefaceix
Acknowledgmentsxiii
A Note on Semanticsxv
Introductionxix
1 History1
2 Knowledge23
3 Science47
4 Health73
5 Environment89
6 Food105
7 Energy141
8 Art167
9 Civility185
10 Imagination221
11 Democracy247
Epilogue263
Appendix Passive, Dissonant, or Making a Difference: Which
Way for Foundation Investing?271
Notes285
Index303

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