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The modern American foundation as an instrumentality for charitable and philanthropic giving is in many ways a unique and complex social/economic/political institution. This is particularly the case for foundations with large assets. As a social phenomenon, the foundation has deep roots in the past. At the beginnings of any degree of civilization charitable giving and rudimentary forms of foundations emerge. This is the case in many regions of the world. The pattern is consistent: once enough property or wealth beyond primitive human needs is accumulated, some of it begins to be set aside for what the donors of such wealth consider worthwhile purposes.
The serious literature contributing greatly to public perception of philanthropy and foundations has been relatively sparse. Much of what is available is quantitative and statistical in nature. There has been limited objective attention to the motives or reasons spurring individual philanthropists to engage or not to engage in creating foundations; such motivation needs historical and comparative analysis. Major investigations and studies of foundations, together with ancillary national, regional, and international organizations to facilitate such study, have received spotty consideration.
Philanthropists and Foundation Globalization addresses three interrelated aspects of foundation history. First, it reviews biographical-historical profiles of the founding philanthropists and their heirs engaged in international giving. Second, it discusses major governmental and non-governmental investigations and studies of foundations including domestic ones, and also foreign ones in which U.S. participants have played a prominent role, spanning the period 1912 to the present. Third, it chronicles foundation developments and activities in Europe at the close of the twentieth century. The volume provides a historical account of some U.S. foundations' international activity in a particular region in a specific time period and their accomplishments. In addition to its other accomplishments, this volume is the first effort to place the Soros, MacArthur, Templeton and Kerkorian foundations in a global context. This is a major contribution to an important new area of public and academic interest.