Philanthropy as Redistribution: A Geographic Analysis of Domestic Foundation Giving
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Private foundations, and philanthropy more broadly, have long been critical players in the American civic sector. By seeking out and funding projects otherwise left behind by the public and private sectors, these grantmakers hold significant power to influence societal outcomes and sometimes even policy. As a result of the most recent election – with both the Clinton Foundation and Donald J. Trump Foundation receiving heated criticism – American foundations have begun to receive a much more critical spotlight. This newfound criticism of private philanthropy represents a prime opportunity to reexamine the private foundation’s effects on American communities. In this study, I employ an original dataset for a sample of fifty US counties as I examine two crucial aspects of foundation operations: the private foundation’s often-assumed redistributive function and the private foundation’s role in providing funds to rural nonprofits. First, I find little in the way of redistributive trends in grants made to my sample counties. My sample dataset lacks evidence for a significant relationship between community need and private foundation grant receipts in the direction redistributive theory would predict. Second, I find no significant difference between the population-adjusted size of the nonprofit sectors in my rural and urban counties and a difference in per-capita grant receipts between the two county types that approaches significance at the five percent level. Combined, these findings suggest private foundations are failing to target their grants to the communities most in need and to proportionately fund projects in rural communities.
DepartmentPublic Policy Studies
CitationEnglar, Brian (2018). Philanthropy as Redistribution: A Geographic Analysis of Domestic Foundation Giving. Honors thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10161/16000.
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Rights for Collection: Undergraduate Honors Theses and Student papers