Golden Donors

Overview

The world of the golden donors-the rich and influential philanthropic foundations-is quite likely the least known and yet most pervasive of all the invisible money and power networks in America. Nielsen explores the 36 largest of the 22,000 currently active foundations. He takes the reader inside each of the giants to analyze its people, policies, and performance. From the most famous, Ford and MacArthur, to the most obscure, Mabee and Moody, the author lets in daylight and lets out the bats as well as the ...

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Overview

The world of the golden donors-the rich and influential philanthropic foundations-is quite likely the least known and yet most pervasive of all the invisible money and power networks in America. Nielsen explores the 36 largest of the 22,000 currently active foundations. He takes the reader inside each of the giants to analyze its people, policies, and performance. From the most famous, Ford and MacArthur, to the most obscure, Mabee and Moody, the author lets in daylight and lets out the bats as well as the butterflies. Golden Donors is a journey through 36 fiefdoms, each of which controls upwards of $250 million dollars, beyond the reach of the IRS, in order to encourage medical research, support cultural and artistic endeavors, and not least, to buttress immensely expensive educational institutions.

Which of the great foundations in recent years have been spectacular successes and which are failures? Is today's leadership in the third-stream economy equal to the task? Are foundations, seedbeds or killing grounds of new social and political ideas? And what is the federal government, and a variety of administrations, doing to help or harm this new economy? Nielsen provides many surprising and some quite startling answers for the millions of Americans whose lives the golden donors directly or indirectly affect.

When Golden Donors first appeared, A. Bartlett Giamatti praised it as an historical guide, a shrewd critique, and an impassioned warning. "This remarkable book on the nation's largest foundations must be read by anyone concerned with America's unique not-for-profit sector and the quality of our national life." Kingman Brewster saw the book as "a revealing mirror held up to the faces of big philanthropy...a must book for foundation creators and leaders." Thornton F. Bradsahw said, "Golden Donors describes the large American foundations, what they are how they got that way, and wherein lies their strength and their potential. The book is wise, witty, and perceptive-indispensable reading." Waldemar A. Nielsen was born in Pennsylvania, educated in Missouri and was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University. He served as a naval officer, diplomat, expert on Africa, foundation officer and trustee, and foreign affairs analyst. He has written for The New Yorker, Harper's, and other publications. A leading counselor on philanthropy policy, Nielsen has advised a number of present and former clients, including John D. Rockefeller 3rd, J. Paul Getty, and Robert O. Anderson, as well as major corporations and foundations.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Nielsen, who wrote The Big Foundations in 1972, here updates his study of America's 36 largest organized philanthropies. Although the project was funded in part by the MacArthur Foundation, the author has succeeded in remaining objective, for his chapter on the feuding within that organization is the liveliest in the book. Overall, however, his examination of foundations with assets in excess of $250 million is bland; for example, he plays down the much-publicized criticism that the McGeorge Bundy regime caused fiscal damage to the Ford Foundation. Nielsen does fault all these organizations for inattention to problems of war and peace, to the decreasing productivity of U.S. industry and to an ``underperforming'' U.S. welfare state. Still, his report is unlikely to garner a wide audience. November 26
Library Journal
Golden Donors tells the stories of the nation's 36 largest private foundations, which have a vast influence on private philanthropy in the United States. For each foundation, an account of the donor's life (and personality), the foundation's management, and the development of its philosophies and program is given. A section on the MacArthur Foundation, one of America's newest and largest, is replete with tales of the founder's eccentricities and infighting among the board of directors. Incidentally, the MacArthur Foundation provided a grant to the author for the writing of Golden Donors. Nielsen's wide-open approach makes these inside stories interesting reading for those with some knowledge of private foundations and philanthropy in the United States. Sybil B. McShane, Dept. of Libraries, Montpelier, Vt.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765809124
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/15/2002
  • Pages: 484
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.08 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction to the Transaction Edition ix
Preface xi
Part I The Backdrop
1 The Money and the Men 3
2 Reform, Rejuvenation, and a New Dilemma 23
3 The Changing Political Context 37
Part II A Gallery Of Portraits
4 The Prototypes: Ford and Rockefeller 61
5 The Big Newcomers: MacArthur and Robert Wood Johnson 100
6 The Liberal Activists: Carnegie, Edna McConnell Clark, and William Penn 133
7 The Evolution of Two Dynasties: The Pews and the Mellons 168
8 California Comes on Strong: Kaiser, Hewlett, Irvine, Weingart, Keck, and Hilton 200
9 The Community Foundations, an Important Variant: Cleveland, New York, and San Francisco 242
10 The Major Midwesterners: Kellogg, Kresge, Lilly, and Mott 265
11 The Horse Latitudes: Surdna, Duke, and Sloan 315
12 The Southwest--Rich Land, Poor Land: Houston, Brown, Moody, Mabee, and Noble 334
13 The Nonidentical Minnesota Twins: McKnight and Bush 366
14 A Pair from the Press: Hearst and Gannett 386
Part III Patterns And Prospects
15 Patterns 411
16 A Prescription 424
17 Epilogue: Double Crisis, Double Challenge 435
Notes 445
A Short Sampler Of Readings 451
Index 457
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