Role of Foundations

January 22, 1999 • Volume 9, Issue 3
Should they give away more money?
By David Masci

Introduction

Foundation grants have enabled the Marshall Heights Community Development Organization in Southeast Washington, D.C., to spearhead development of a community school as part of its neighborhood-revitalization efforts. It features innovative academic programs, on-site social services and increased parent involvement. (Photo Credit: Marshall Heights Community Development Organization)
Foundation grants have enabled the Marshall Heights Community Development Organization in Southeast Washington, D.C., to spearhead development of a community school as part of its neighborhood-revitalization efforts. It features innovative academic programs, on-site social services and increased parent involvement. (Photo Credit: Marshall Heights Community Development Organization)

The nation's 40,000 foundations distributed more than $12 billion in grants in 1996 to support philanthropic causes ranging from the arts to health care for the poor. But critics say that many foundations only give away the legal minimum each year because they are more concerned with preserving their endowments than doing good works. In addition, some critics charge, foundations provide too much support for dubious academic research projects that have little social value. Foundation supporters counter that foundations keep a tight rein on their funding not because they are stingy but because they must be able to make grants in lean times. Moreover, supporters argue, foundations must take risks and fund programs that government is unwilling to help.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Philanthropy and Charities
May 11, 2012  Celebrity Advocacy
Aug. 03, 2007  Corporate Social Responsibility
Dec. 08, 2006  Philanthropy in America
Jan. 22, 1999  Role of Foundations
Feb. 27, 1998  The New Corporate Philanthropy
Nov. 12, 1993  Charitable Giving
Dec. 23, 1988  Philanthropy: the Season for Giving
Dec. 12, 1986  New Faces of Charity
Dec. 03, 1982  The Charity Squeeze
Jan. 11, 1974  American Philanthropy
Mar. 05, 1969  Voluntary Action: People and Programs
Mar. 20, 1963  Tax-Exempt Foundations: Privileges and Policies
Oct. 12, 1955  Joint Fund Raising
Sep. 11, 1953  Charity Appeals
Jan. 05, 1949  Tax Exempt Foundations
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Charities and Philanthropy