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The Big Foundations

A Twentieth Century Fund Study

By (author) Waldemar A. Nielsen
Genres: History
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Columbia University Press, New York, United States
Published: 1st Oct 1972
Dimensions: w 166mm h 232mm d 37mm
Weight: 816g
ISBN-10: 0231036655
ISBN-13: 9780231036658
Barcode No: 9780231036658

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Kirkus US
A study of the 33 major general-purpose foundations, their accomplishments, failings, and potentialities. Despite attacks from fight and left, the "activist" foundation is the exception; most remain in traditional philanthropic, research and educational grooves. After examining the spectrum from the Rockefeller Foundation's fine scientific work to the fraudulent use of a DuPont foundation for corporate tax purposes, along with a big dose of gossip about the Kelloggs, Mellons, et al., Nielsen observes that the majority of foundations are "unprofessional, passive, ameliorative institutions," and their work "could probably be done as well, or better, by alternative means." Yet, like Merrimon Cuninggim (see Private Money and Public Service, p. 896), he is firmly pro-foundation, fears the harsh effects of the 1969 tax law's constraints, and is generally concerned with helping the foundations straighten themselves out. He suggests that they should avoid excessive concentration of assets, rally their good intentions and aggressively tackle racial problems (there is an interesting history here of foundation efforts in this direction since Rockefeller the First and Rosenwald). Also, he would have them report more fully to the public, and diversify their WASPy staffs and trustees. Nielsen notes the problem of conflict of interest - bankers sitting on foundation boards have an "in" for pet projects - but basically slides past the difficult issue of public accountability. A stimulating overview, better than Cuninggim's, unsatisfying for muckrakers, possibly fruitful for those concerned with what Nielsen calls "philanthropy." (Kirkus Reviews)