American Foundations An Investigative History

ISBN-10: 0262541416
ISBN-13: 9780262541411
Edition: 2002
Authors: Mark Dowie
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Description: 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  More...

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Book details

List price: $27.95
Copyright year: 2002
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 8/23/2002
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 360
Size: 6.25" wide x 8.75" long x 0.50" tall
Weight: 1.100
Language: English

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, Hewlett, 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. The reforms 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.

Award-winning journalist Mark Dowie is the author of Losing Ground: American Environmentalism at the Close of the Twentieth Century, American Foundations: An Investigative History (both published by the MIT Press), and four other books.

Preface
Acknowledgments
A Note on Semantics
Introduction
History
Knowledge
Science
Health
Environment
Food
Energy
Art
Civility
Imagination
Democracy
Epilogue
Passive, Dissonant, or Making a Difference: Which Way for Foundation Investing?
Notes
Index

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