Latest Entries
The Outcomes Movement in Philanthropy and the Nonprofit Sector
Nonprofit Sector Research Handbook Forum

The Outcomes Movement in Philanthropy and the Nonprofit Sector

Editors’ Note: Paul Brest introduces his chapter in the newly published third edition of the Nonprofit Sector: A Research Handbook, on outcome-oriented philanthropy. For other posts in Histphil‘s forum on the Handbook, see here. Introduction: The Essence of Outcome-Oriented Philanthropy My chapter in the Nonprofit Sector: A Research Handbook chronicles the rise of the contemporary … Continue reading

Nonprofits and the City
Nonprofit Sector Research Handbook Forum

Nonprofits and the City

Editors’ Note: Claire Dunning and Christof Brandtner introduce their chapter in the new 3rd edition of The Nonprofit Sector: A Research Handbook (Stanford University Press, 2020). Read posts from other contributors to the Handbook, including an introduction to this forum, here. Look around any city block, and chances are you’ll see a nonprofit organization. The … Continue reading

Seeing Like a Philanthropist: An organizational sociology of philanthropic history
Nonprofit Sector Research Handbook Forum

Seeing Like a Philanthropist: An organizational sociology of philanthropic history

Editors’ Note: Aaron Horvath and Walter Powell introduce their chapter in the third edition of the Nonprofit Sector: A Research Handbook (Stanford University Press, 2020), edited by Powell and Patricia Bromley. The Handbook, first published in 1987 and then revised in 2006, has long served as an important resource for the sector. But this edition … Continue reading

The Power and Precedent of Countercyclical Grantmaking: What the Funders Who Gave More During the Great Recession Can Teach Philanthropy During the Covid-19 Crisis
COVID-19 Pandemic

The Power and Precedent of Countercyclical Grantmaking: What the Funders Who Gave More During the Great Recession Can Teach Philanthropy During the Covid-19 Crisis

Editors’ Note: Ryan Schlegel takes a look back at grantmaking during the Great Recession and reflects on what lessons it might hold for funders confronting the economic crisis unleashed by the Covid-19 pandemic. For more on HistPhil‘s coverage of the Covid-19 crisis, see here. The first quarter of 2020 was one of the all-time worst … Continue reading

Power, Ignorance and the New Philanthropic Enlightenment
COVID-19 Pandemic / Current Events and Philanthropy / New Works in the Field

Power, Ignorance and the New Philanthropic Enlightenment

Editors’ Note: An early critic of philanthrocapitalism and the Gates Foundation – arguing in No Such Thing as a Free Gift: The Gates Foundation and the Price of Philanthropy (2015) that in the age of philanthrocapitalism “[g]iving more” had become “an avenue for getting more” –  Linsey McGoey introduces her newest book, The Unknowers: How Strategic … Continue reading

It’s Not Torah From Sinai: Historicizing the 5% Payout Orthodoxy in the midst of the Covid-19 Crisis
COVID-19 Pandemic

It’s Not Torah From Sinai: Historicizing the 5% Payout Orthodoxy in the midst of the Covid-19 Crisis

Editors’ Note: HistPhil co-editor Benjamin Soskis argues that the Covid-19 crisis is a moment to challenge the 5% payout orthodoxy by appreciating its historical contingency. For HistPhil’s other posts on the crisis, see here. Over the last decade, as the public has confronted a steady stream of crises—economic, political, ecological—advocates have steadily called on foundations … Continue reading

Mutual aid and physical distancing are not new for Black and racialized minorities in the Americas
COVID-19 Pandemic / Current Events and Philanthropy

Mutual aid and physical distancing are not new for Black and racialized minorities in the Americas

Editors’ Note: Caroline Shenaz Hossein responds to Lucy Bernholz’s recent blog post predicting shifting philanthropic trends– a “rebirth of mutual aid”– during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hossein argues that “any general trends towards mutual aid in the U.S. should be understood, not simply or principally as a return to earlier giving habits, but also as an … Continue reading

Trump Donated His Salary to HHS. Is that Kosher?
Current Events and Philanthropy / Philanthropy in the News

Trump Donated His Salary to HHS. Is that Kosher?

Editors’ Note: Ellen P. Aprill comments on how President Trump’s recent decision to donate his salary to the Department of Health and Human Services fits into her latest research project on the boundaries between private charitable donations and public funds. On March 3, President Trump’s Press Secretary, Stephanie Grisham, announced on Twitter that, consistent with … Continue reading

Berggruen’s Nils Gilman on a Historian’s Orientation in the Nonprofit World
Nonprofits and Historical Research

Berggruen’s Nils Gilman on a Historian’s Orientation in the Nonprofit World

Editors’ Note: The following is an interview between HistPhil co-editor Maribel Morey and the Berggruen Institute’s Vice President of Programs, Nils Gilman, which took place over email this week. An intellectual historian by training and author of Mandarins of the Future: Modernization Theory in Cold War America (2004), Gilman discusses how his orientation as a historian has shaped … Continue reading

Control Stock: Corporate Power and the Tax Reform Act of 1969
Tax Reform Act of 1969 forum / Uncategorized

Control Stock: Corporate Power and the Tax Reform Act of 1969

Editors’ Note: Eric John Abrahamson continues HistPhil‘s forum marking the 50th anniversary of the Tax Reform Act of 1969. In 1969, Texas Rep. Wright Patman and other members of Congress believed that a significant number of donors who created private foundations had little interest in philanthropy. Faced with high estate tax rates that would force … Continue reading

Taking on Tocqueville: Revisiting the Connection between Democracy and Civil Society
Philanthropy / Philanthropy and Democracy

Taking on Tocqueville: Revisiting the Connection between Democracy and Civil Society

Editors’ Note: HistPhil takes a brief break from our forum on the Tax Reform Act of 1969 for a post by Thomas Adam complicating the historical association between the growth of democracy and the surging of civil society. Alexis de Tocqueville’s dictum that Americans formed associations for addressing social problems while the French and English … Continue reading

Parallel Confrontations: the Ford Foundation and the Limits of Racial Liberalism, 1968 and 2019
Tax Reform Act of 1969 forum

Parallel Confrontations: the Ford Foundation and the Limits of Racial Liberalism, 1968 and 2019

Editors’ Note: Karen Ferguson adds her perspective to HistPhil‘s forum on the Tax Reform Act (TRA) of 1969. The controversy surrounding the campaign to decentralize the New York City school system in 1968, and especially the pilot project in Brooklyn’s Ocean Hill-Brownsville neighborhood, helped fuel Congressional opposition to philanthropic activism that saw expression in the … Continue reading

Penalty or Tax: Reconsidering the Constitutionality of the Private Foundation Excise Taxes
Tax Reform Act of 1969 forum

Penalty or Tax: Reconsidering the Constitutionality of the Private Foundation Excise Taxes

Editors’ Note: Ellen Aprill continues HistPhil‘s forum marking the 50th anniversary of the Tax Reform Act of 1969 with a post on the constitutionality of private foundation excise taxes. This post is adapted from an article that will be published in the spring issue of Pittsburgh Tax Review, based on papers presented to a symposium … Continue reading

The Private Charity Lacunae: The Tax Reform Act of 1969 and the Rise of Donor-Advised Funds
Tax Reform Act of 1969 forum

The Private Charity Lacunae: The Tax Reform Act of 1969 and the Rise of Donor-Advised Funds

Editors’ Note: Lila Corwin Berman continues HistPhil’s (slightly dilatory) forum marking the 50th anniversary of the Tax Reform Act of 1969 with a contribution explaining how the Act paved the way for the spectacular rise of donor-advised funds. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Congress worried about the unchecked private power that philanthropic entities could hold … Continue reading

The Private Foundation Rules at Fifty: How Did We get There?
Tax Reform Act of 1969 forum / Uncategorized

The Private Foundation Rules at Fifty: How Did We get There?

Editors’ Note: 2019 marked the 50th anniversary of the Tax Reform Act of 1969 (TRA), the most significant package of legislative reforms directed at the philanthropic sector in recent memory. We missed the actual semi-centennial, but there’s no reason to think that philanthropic reform will be any less important a topic to consider in 2020 … Continue reading

Information, Education, and Security as Public Goods: When Are Philanthropic Foundations the Providers of Last Resort?
New Works in the Field

Information, Education, and Security as Public Goods: When Are Philanthropic Foundations the Providers of Last Resort?

Editors’ Note: Building upon his article in the latest issue of the Journal of Latin American Studies, “La gran dama: Science Patronage, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Mexican Social Sciences in the 1940s,” Álvaro Morcillo Laiz considers U.S. foundations’ funding of education, the elaboration of statistics, and human rights activism in Latin America as producing public … Continue reading

The Philanthropy Critic as Pain in the Ass: Robert Payton on Peter Dobkin Hall
Primary Source Documents

The Philanthropy Critic as Pain in the Ass: Robert Payton on Peter Dobkin Hall

Editors’ Note: HistPhil is happy to share with our readers a remarkable primary source document, an unpublished essay by Robert Payton, the founding director of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, on the philanthropy scholar Peter Dobkin Hall, and on the personal and professional difficulties Hall encountered in developing a career as a critic … Continue reading

Introducing Re:source: the Rockefeller Archive Center’s new effort to bring the History of Philanthropy to a Wider Audience
Archives and Knowledge Management

Introducing Re:source: the Rockefeller Archive Center’s new effort to bring the History of Philanthropy to a Wider Audience

Editors’ Note: Rachel Wimpee and Elizabeth Berkowitz, historians in the Research & Education division of the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC), introduce the RAC’s latest project, Re:source, a new digital storytelling platform focused on philanthropic history. We at HistPhil give Re:source a hearty welcome (its initial postings have been superb) and encourage our readers to check … Continue reading

In Defense of Unstrategic Philanthropy
Oral History/Testimonies / Philanthropy / Uncategorized

In Defense of Unstrategic Philanthropy

Editors’ Note: Gara LaMarche reflects on lessons learned from leadership positions at two of the nation’s largest foundations, Open Society Foundations and the recently sunset Atlantic Philanthropies. I’ve been helping foundations and rich individuals redistribute their wealth to non-profits and social movements for nearly twenty-five years, and almost all of that time there has been … Continue reading