America's grantmaking foundations have grown rapidly over the course of recent decades, even in the face of financial and economic crises. Foundations have a great deal of freedom, enjoy widespread legitimacy, and wield considerable influence. In this book, David Hammack and Helmut Anheier follow up their edited volume, American Foundations, with a comprehensive historical account of what American foundations have done with that independence and power.
While philanthropic foundations play important roles in other parts of the world, the U.S. sector stands out as exceptional. Nowhere else are they so numerous, prominent, or autonomous. What have been the main contributions of philanthropic foundations to American society? And what might the future hold for them?
A Versatile American Institution considers foundations in a new way. Previous accounts typically focused narrowly on their organization, donors, and leaders, and their intentionsbut not on the outcome of philanthropy. Rather than looking at foundations in a vacuum, Hammack and Anheier consider their roles and contributions in the context of their times and their economic and political circumstances.
David C. Hammack is the Hiram C. Haydn Professor of History at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and a past president of the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA). Helmut K. Anheier is dean of the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, Germany, serves as academic director of the Center for Social Investment at Heidelberg University, and is senior fellow at UCLA's Luskin School of Public Policy. Anheier and Hammack are the coeditors of American Foundations: Roles and Contributions (Brookings, 2010).