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Updated to reflect the latest statistical information on charitable foundations. Bibliography and citations have also been updated.

Updated on 03 Sep 2013. The previous version of this content can be found here.
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date: 18 October 2017

Abstract and Keywords

Foundations are private institutions for public benefit. With a long history that reaches back to antiquity, foundations are experiencing a renaissance and increased attention paid to them by policy makers. Already by the mid-1980s, observers had begun to report the end of the relative decline in the overall size and importance of the foundation sector—a trend that had characterized the previous decades. Some analysts suggest the possibility of a new, third “foundation wave,” after a first growth period in the late Middle Ages, alongside the rise of commerce and finance, and a second period of growth in the late 19th century, following the industrial revolution. Political stability, an increase in demand for social, educational, and cultural services of all kinds, and economic prosperity are certainly significant factors behind this growth. Yet a more immediate reason is the way in which foundations have been suggesting themselves as instruments of welfare state reform in the broadest sense.

Keywords: charity, philanthropy, nonprofit sector, grant-making foundations, operating foundations, community foundations

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