Funding in the 21st Century: Trends and Priorities in the Foundation Sector

Aug 18, 2016

In the middle of the 20th century, some of America's most storied grantmakers, including the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers, and the New World Foundation, placed the heft of their wealth and influence behind the country's growing civil rights movement – and in doing so earned the wrath of their government.

This was because the foundations backed the movement extensively, including providing funding for voter registration drives in the segregated South as well as supporting a range of civil rights groups. This did not go down well with the nation's pro-segregation politicianswho opposed them fiercely – some like the Republican Wright Patman even lobbied for the government to take over the foundations' charitable work.

Today, they actively collaborate with governments where needed, and are among the heaviest financial contributors in the development sector. For example, of the 28 global foundations interviewed for this whitepaper, 21 of them collectively gave USD 18 billionin 2014-15, a number roughly equivalent to the GDP of Iceland.

To spotlight both the growing influence and the impressive span of accomplishments of foundations in this whitepaper, Dasra conducted interviews with over 30 sector experts, including heads of global philanthropic foundations, and building on these interviews, hosted a roundtable in Mumbai in March 2016, in partnership with the Robert Bosch Stiftung. The roundtable brought together 25 of the most influential foundations worldwide, with the aim of building consensus on the role that their organizations can play in contributing to and fueling the global development agenda and to explore avenues for collaboration.

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