The Role of Philanthropic Foundations in American Life


By the second half of the 20th century, the philanthropic foundation in America had evolved into a new institutional form, both private and public in nature. This project traced the development of the modern general-purpose philanthropic foundation and assessed its role in philanthropy as a whole, as compared with the roles played by government, business corporations, company-affiliated foundations, individual donors, community-service organizations, and other participants in philanthropic activity. This study also examined the role of private foundations in financing higher education and scientific research. The data suggested that foundation resources were not expanding in proportion to need and that education and research in the natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, and public policy studies would experience increasing reliance on government support.


Resulting Publication

  • U.S. Philanthropic Foundations: Their History, Structure, Management and Record, by Warren Weaver. New York: Harper & Row, 1967. (out of print)


Project Leader