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

3.42 of 5 stars 3.42  ·  rating details  ·  40 ratings  ·  10 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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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
Jul 25, 2009 Georgia rated it 3 of 5 stars 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.
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.
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

Am in the middle of this very thorough study of american foundations. Fleischman knows the field very well.
Good book for the subject matter. I'd recommend it if you are interested in philanthropy and foundations.
Good book information-wise, but as you might imagine, it's quite dry in parts.
Dan Graham
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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