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Philanthropy in Democratic SocietiesHistory, Institutions, Values$
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Rob Reich, Chiara Cordelli, and Lucy Bernholz

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226335506

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226335780.001.0001

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On the Role of Foundations in Democracies

On the Role of Foundations in Democracies

Chapter:
(p.64) Three On the Role of Foundations in Democracies
Source:
Philanthropy in Democratic Societies
Author(s):

Rob Reich

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226335780.003.0004

This chapter discusses the role private philanthropic foundations should play in democratic societies. Though endowments of sort or another have existed for centuries, the modern grant-making foundation -- in which private assets are set aside in a permanent, donor-directed, tax advantaged endowment with a fraction of the assets annually to be distributed for a public purpose – is a recent invention. Philanthropic foundations in this form are institutional oddities, plutocratic voices in a democratic society. Despite many anti-democratic features, I argue that the foundation is not incompatible with democracy, so long as it functions in support of what I call pluralism and discovery.

Keywords:   private foundation, philanthropy, democracy, John Rockefeller, Bill Gates, plutocracy, nonprofit, endowment, pluralism

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