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The Foundation: A Great American Secret: How Private Wealth is Changing the World
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The Foundation: A Great American Secret: How Private Wealth is Changing the World

3.49  ·  Rating Details  ·  67 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
Foundations are a peculiarly American institution. They have been the dynamo of social change since their invention at the beginning of the last century. Yet they are cloaked in secrecy— their decision-making and operations are inscrutable to the point of obscurity-leaving them substantially unaccountable to anyone. Joel Fleishman has been in and around foundations for alm ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published January 9th 2007 by PublicAffairs
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Jun 02, 2008 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
I mark this as 4-stars because I think Fleishman has some really great points - mostly about impact, transparency, and communications. I'd give it 5 stars if the case studies were better.
Kressel Housman
This was one of the books cited in Philanthrocapitalism and it's very similar, but rather than focusing on philanthropy in general, it focused specifically on charitable foundations. In tone, however, it was much more academic than Philanthrocapitalism and didn't feature nearly as many famous people, so it wasn't as easy a read. To tell the truth, I nearly gave up after the introduction, but I'm glad I didn't because the book definitely picked up, especially in the case studies chapter. The reas ...more
Rana Rachwal
Apr 19, 2015 Rana Rachwal rated it really liked it
What are the chances .. My 1st book from digital library!!
Jul 25, 2009 Georgia rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in philanthropy
Recommended to Georgia by: Grace Chiang
Shelves: 2009-reads
Read this for work. Not the most interesting subject, but informative and helpful for my job. Although the author was a bit repetitive at times, he made a good case for why we have and need foundations. While many are critical of them for their opaque practices and hesitancy to admit failure, they have changed the course of millions of lives from funding the people who made Sesame Street to drastically reducing famine in India.
Mar 26, 2012 Kevin rated it liked it
Good overview of foundations and their impact on philanthropy in America. Aside from providing some background the book makes a pretty strong plea for transparency, accountability, and ways to measure the impact of foundation giving. The ethical argument is strong and valuable and concludes with the idea that foundations should police themselves before the government starts to police them.
Jan 16, 2011 Jamie rated it liked it
This is an in depth and emotional account that vindicates the importance of foundations, and the need for these institutions to be more accountable to society.
Joe Imberman
Jan 02, 2010 Joe Imberman rated it really liked it

Am in the middle of this very thorough study of american foundations. Fleischman knows the field very well.
Mar 29, 2008 Amanda rated it really liked it
Good book for the subject matter. I'd recommend it if you are interested in philanthropy and foundations.
Nov 11, 2008 John rated it it was ok
Good book information-wise, but as you might imagine, it's quite dry in parts.
Dan Graham
Jan 03, 2011 Dan Graham rated it liked it
Shelves: philanthropy
A good overview of philanthropic giving
Oct 16, 2009 Joel added it
A glowing account of foundations and their activities. Amazing how much foundations have accomplished. A lot of social progress, and in the physical and biological areas too. Very faint warnings of the new Conservative foundations, and nothing about how foundations direct their investment programs.

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“One of the most infuriating traits of some philanthropoids is their practice of dragging out grantmaking decisions beyond any reasonable time frame, while failing to offer any clear signals about the real likelihood of approval. When the proposal has been solicited by the foundation in the first place—which is usually the case nowadays—this behavior is even more reprehensible.” 0 likes
“Today’s most vociferous critics come from every position on the political spectrum. The right decries what it regards as the deliberate disregard by (liberal) foundation trustees and program staff of the intent of (conservative) donors, while the left opposes the long-term growth of foundation assets as an unhealthy concentration of wealth and power. Warren Buffett’s historic gift to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has ratcheted up the concerns about the scale of foundation assets, although, despite the amazingly misleading press reporting of his gift as one to be added to the assets of the Gates Foundation, the Buffett gift is to be entirely spent within a year of the receipt of its installments, and indeed is contingent on the Gates Foundation’s also spending a minimum of 5 percent of its own asset value.” 0 likes
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