Philanthropic Foundations & Public Policy

Course Syllabus Focus

Philanthropic Foundations

Course Syllabus Institution

Duke University
Goss, Kristin

America’s philanthropic foundations aim not only to support charitable organizations but also to change public policy through their grantmaking. Traditionally, scholars have given short shrift to important empirical and normative questions about foundations’ public role. That is beginning to change, and none too soon. With a half-trillion dollars in assets, and annual grantmaking of more than $30-billion, the nation’s foundations and their boards command the social and economic resources to have a profound, if little understood, impact on social, economic, regulatory, and foreign policy. This course will explore the normative debates revolving around power and democratic accountability and the empirical literature on how foundations attempt to influence public policy, why, and to what ends.

Blog Posts

More on time, value, and time limits

February 19, 2018

A new report applies a theory of time and value in philanthropy to three real cases, to see how a foundation could decide whether to operate with a limited life, based on the amount and kind of value it hopes to create.


Oct 05

Rip Rapson
President and CEO
The Kresge Foundation