COMM-ORG Papers 2003

The Decline of Progressive Policy and the New Philanthropy:

Progressive Foundations and Other Alternatives to Mainstream Foundations Are Created and Become Substantial, But Fail to Reverse the Policy Decline


Robert O. Bothwell

President Emeritus, National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy
1025 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 205
Washington, DC 20036 USA
tel: 202-467-4495, 703-836-4857
fax: 202-955-5606, 703-836-1304


~Progressive Policy Making In Decline
~A  Dissenting View On The Diminution Of Progressive Policy Making
~Why Has There Been A Diminution Of Progressive Policy Making?
  1. The Conservatives Take Over Policy Making
  2. Conservative Foundations’ Strategic Philanthropy in Building the Conservative Movement
  3. Liberals' Control of Congress Encouraged Progressive Policy Silos
  4. The Trap of Policy Silos for Progressive Policy Making.
~What Has Philanthropy Done To Counter The Decline Of Progressive Policy?
  1. Introduction
  2. Foundation Funding of Progressive Causes
  3. Corporate Funding of Racial/ethnic Populations, Civil Rights, Race Relations & Advocacy
  4. United Ways Do Not Fund Social Change
  5. Project Support instead of Core Support
  6. Summary – The Insufficiency of Philanthropic Funding for Progressive Causes
~The Origins And Growth Of Progressive Foundations As Alternatives To Mainline Philanthropy.
  1. Definition of “Progressive Philanthropy”
  2. Revolution or Reform?
  3. Who Exactly Are the Progressive Foundations?
  4. Origins of Social Change Grant Makers
  5. The Total Social Change Grants of Progressive Foundations
~The Creation And Growth Of New Private Funding Institutions As Alternatives To Mainline Philanthropy
  1. Introduction
  2. Alternative Funding Institutions Provide $106 Million for Progressive Social Change from 248 Individual Funds
  3. How the Alternative Funding Institutions Differ from Mainline Philanthropy
  4. The Religious Funders
  5. Black United Funds
  6. Social Action Funds
  7. Women’s Funds
  8. Alternative Community Foundations
  9. Native American Grant-makers
  10. The Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transsexual Foundations
  11. Environmental Federations
  12. Hispanic Funds and Asian Pacific American Funds
~Summary And Conclusions:  Progressive Foundations And Alternative Funding Institutions.
~Can Philanthropy Be Reformed To Provide More Money For Social Change?


An abbreviated version of this paper will appear in Foundations for Social Change: Critical Perspectives on Philanthropy and Popular Movements, Daniel Faber and Deborah McCarthy, eds., Temple University Press.  COMM-ORG gratefully acknowledges permission of the publisher to make this paper available here.


For the past 22 years, there has been a diminution of progressive public policy in the U.S. Stated another way, public policy has less and less sought to improve the lives of low income people, working people who are not college graduates, racial/ethnic minorities, women and the disabled. Some big mainstream foundations have fought against this trend, as have some smaller foundations. They have been unable to reverse it. Fundamentally, this may be because there is insufficient foundation investment in progressive values and organizations. And because conservatives have organized their nonprofits and political movement much more effectively. But it may also be that the liberal foundations' support for the rights of disenfranchised populations has encouraged the development of nonprofit policy silos which have precluded organizing a broader movement for progressive values and votes. In reaction to the extremely limited mainstream foundation support for progressive organizations, a whole new set of progressive foundations and alternative funding institutions have developed. The latter include alternative funds seeking workplace contributions, women's funds, alternative community foundations, new religious funders, racial/ethnic philanthropic efforts, and more. The monies they raise for progressive social change are substantial, though no more than a quarter of all foundation money committed to social change. Thus far, they have failed to reverse the decline of progressive policy. Yet they may ultimately change the face of philanthropy's commitment to progressive public policy and social change.

Progressive Policy Making In Decline.

Ever since Ronald Reagan and the conservatives took control of the White House in 1980, there has been a diminution of progressive public policy making. When the conservatives took control of Congress in 1995, this phenomenon became distinctly more pronounced. And the advent of the George W. Bush Administration in 2001, despite pronouncements of compassionate conservatism, clearly has banished any remains of progressive policy making. This chapter reviews evidence of the decline of progressive policy making, why it has happened, what philanthropy has done to counter the decline, with special focus on the roles of progressive foundations and new alternative funding institutions.

The late Senator Paul D. Wellstone (D., MN) in a fund raising appeal for his third-term candidacy in 2002, wrote, "the Right Wing [is] now effectively dominant throughout the Federal government...the challenge to the humane values we share is more formidable than ever." He asked, "Where is the voice for working families?" Adding, "I yearn for...a politics that takes issues from people's kitchen tables and places them squarely on the table in our national political debate." (1) Of course, this was just a fund raising letter, which we all know tends to exaggeration.

But others share Sen. Wellstone's concerns. For example, journalist David Callahan writes, "Since 1995, the national policy discussion...has moved noticeably to the right. The federal welfare guarantee has been eliminated. Partial Social Security privatization, unthinkable a decade ago, is supported by numerous members of Congress, including some moderate Democrats. Sweeping telecommunications deregulation has been enacted. New tax breaks for the rich have been passed by Congress... Legislation authorizing school vouchers has been endorsed by the House of Representatives. Efforts to stem global warming have been slowed." (2)

Pablo Eisenberg, former director of the Center for Community Change, writes of "the extraordinary problems that are tearing at the fabric of our society...poverty, racism, environmental degradation, lack of health protection, declining trust in government...Extensive poverty still haunts and undermines our nation's commitment to social and economic justice. The poor are getting poorer. Yet poverty has fallen off our radar screen, including that of the nonprofit sector..." (3)

In Cultural Dilemmas of Progressive Politics, Stephen Hart writes, "Since the 1970s American national politics have moved decisively to the right." (4) "It is indisputable that public policy and the political discourse found in Washington and many state capitals have shifted dramatically rightward over the last twenty-five years." (5) "...why has the right...fared so much better in Washington than the left since the 1960s...?" (6)

Bill Moyers, speaking recently, adds, "Something is deeply wrong with politics today...the soul of democracy has been dying..." He goes on to identify some critical issues Congress was considering in Fall, 2001:

...restoring the three-martini lunch...[and] paying for lobbyists' long lunches by bringing back the deductible lunch...

...[cutting] the capital gains [tax] for the wealthy...

...[eliminating] the Corporate Alternative Minimum Tax...

...[torpedoing] the recent [EPA] order to clean the Hudson River of PCBs.

...[shoveling] generous tax breaks to those giant energy companies...

...[opening] the Alaskan wilderness to drilling...

...[giving] the President the power to discard democratic debate and the rule-of-law concerning controversial trade agreements...

...[setting] up secret tribunals to run roughshod over local communities trying to protect their environment and their health. [the nuclear power industry] limited liability for the risks of meltdown or other nuclear accident.(7)

Meanwhile, the Heritage Foundation, the leading conservative think tank, testified before Congress in 2001on additional domestic issues: welfare reform, child abuse and neglect, food stamps, Medicare regulation, election reform, and budget priorities. The prior year, Heritage Foundation's Congressional testimony on domestic issues covered the role of the Federal Communications Commissions; the Justice Department's results; the Department of Housing and Urban Development's use of performance-based management; Social Security; the government's performance, results and accountability; OSHA's proposed ergonomics program standard; unemployment compensation reform; and costs and benefits of Federal regulation.(8)

Of course, the electoral victories of conservatives in 1994 -- winning both houses of Congress for the first time since the 1950s -- are substantial reasons why progressive policy making has declined in recent years. Nevertheless, prior to 1994, conservatives had made major headway either in stopping or rolling back progressive initiatives from the 1960s.

Jerome L. Himmelstein, in To the Right: The Transformation of American Conservatism, provides historical observation about the diminution of progressive policy making:

...many of [the Right's] achievements and assumptions [have] become part of the framework of American politics. Tax cuts and large budget deficits focused political debate squarely on reducing government spending and made a liberal domestic agenda difficult to contemplate let alone enact. The large military buildup in Reagan's first term greatly raised the baseline of the perennial debates about less or more military spending Reagan's federal court appointments put a long-term conservative stamp on American jurisprudence, which was most palpably evident in the Supreme Court decisions in 1989 of affirmative action and abortion. Above all, conservative views of most issues [have] gained legitimacy and acceptability.(9)

Nonprofit historian David C. Hammack offers another view.

...The number of [nonprofit] organizations per capita doubled between 1970 and 1990. Inevitably, controversy flared on the direct federal funding of nonprofit social service agencies that challenged established social arrangements, or sought to put controversial ideas into practice...the nonprofit sector continued to grow despite controversy over the use of government funds...the Reagan administration...cut back on public housing and on direct operating grants to social service and legal assistance agencies. The most celebrated [cutback was] a sharp retreat from federal funding of 'community action' and legal services programs and organizations, a 'defunding of the left.' (10)

John D. McCarthy and Jim Castelli observe that "We have been involved in an intense national debate around public policy solutions to the problems of poverty in the United States for more than a decade. The mainstream of that debate...reflects a decreasing empathy for the struggles of the poor, and reinforces the widely held notion that 'nothing works' when it comes to public policy on poverty." (11)

On the verge of the conservatives' takeover of Congress in 1995, David M. Ricci writes in The Transformation of American Politics that an energized and remade conservative movement had gained the upper hand in determining the national agenda.(12)

A Dissenting View On The Diminution Of Progressive Policy Making

Despite the diminution of progressive policy making noted above, and despite the oft heard obituary "Liberalism is dead," Jeffrey M. Berry sees a very different public policy landscape. His research results, in The New Liberalism: The Rising Power of Citizen Groups, document a growing liberal advantage over conservatives in Congressional agenda setting and action during the period 1963 to 1995. "...In an era when most people believed that business and the Christian right were ascendant, the liberal post-material lobbies had the most success of all interest groups in influencing the congressional agenda. The liberal citizen groups were highly effective not only in agenda building but also in influencing the legislation once Congress took the issues up." (13)

On the other hand, Berry found that:

...Conservative citizen groups...have been marginal players in the legislative process...(14) The level of conservative citizen advocacy is so low [especially in 1991] that one cannot help but wonder if somehow the research failed to detect these groups' activities.(15) ...When liberal citizen groups were enjoying enormous success in their legislative lobbying, conservative citizen groups stood on the sidelines and watched...(16) At virtually every step of the way in this analysis, conservative citizen groups have been found much less active or effective than liberal citizen groups.(17) ...Conservative citizen groups have been generally ineffective in lobbying Congress.(18)

However, Berry's startling conclusions are based on his fundamental redefinition of "liberalism." While his definition continues the tradition of thinking of liberalism as incorporating activist government, Berry tends to dismiss the importance of economic issues in his definition. Yet these were so critical to Lyndon B. Johnson's War on Poverty liberalism, to Hubert Humphrey's labor-backed liberalism, and to Bobby Kennedy's West Virginia poverty-influenced liberalism. Berry would prefer to define liberalism as "post-materialist" -- the province of environmental advocates, consumer activists concerned with the quality of life, and, to a lesser extent, human rights activists (racial/ethnic minorities, women, gays/lesbians, disabled).

While technically labor unions, anti-poverty groups and anyone else concerned about income and wealth inequality, wages, benefits, unemployment, social services and welfare are part of the liberal tradition, they are not really considered part of Berry's "new liberalism." This is because their economic issues received less and less attention on the Congressional agenda over the years studied. He writes, "...traditional liberal concerns such as promoting social services, economic equality and income support for the poor have suffered so grievously at the hands of conservatives in Congress..." (19) [While] labor did win an important victory with the passage of the minimum wage increase [in the 104th Congress, 1995-96],...the overall emphasis on budget cutting and shrinking government made it a terrible Congress for traditional, economic equality liberals." (20)

When Berry assesses the power of labor and anti-poverty citizen groups during the years 1963-1995, he admits that their power declined considerably. "Over time Congress has come to consider less legislation designed to reduce economic inequality, consider fewer bills designed to raise wages or improve job skills when it does take up such legislation, and pass a smaller proportion of all these economic inequality bills reaching the agenda stage." (21) "For the most part...the agenda of citizen groups has focused largely on issues unconnected to the problems of the poor, the disadvantaged, or even the working the new left grew and grew, the old left was left increasingly isolated." (22) "The bottom line for the working class, the working poor, and the non-working poor is that they are the losers in the transformation of the Democratic Party." (23)

He offers an assessment not too much better for rights activists: "...groups pushing for rights of women and minorities probably fared worse than usual [during 1995-96]." (24)

Berry says, "...While liberal post-materialism has soared, traditional liberalism has stumbled." (25) "...My argument is not that liberalism per se has fared well in an ostensibly conservative period but that one type of liberalism fared well while another faltered badly." (26) "Liberalism has [indeed] changed its stripes." (27)

Thus, to make the claim that "liberalism is not dead. Indeed, it's thriving," (28) Berry had to redefine liberalism in a fundamental way. But as his own research above shows, progressive policy making concerned with economic inequality issues, also perhaps for minority and women's rights issues, is clearly on the decline.

There are other serious problems with Berry's research and conclusions. First, his data and rigorous analysis only cover years when Congress was in firm Democratic control of both houses: 1963, 1979 and 1991. As Berry says, " is possible that the [new] liberal groups have fared particularly well because of the Democrats' control of the Congress during the three years examined..." (29) "Possibly, the real key to the rise of liberal post-materialism was the control of Congress by the Democrats during the years studied....the liberal citizen groups...worked as partners with sympathetic legislators to get their issues considered and acted on." (30)

Second, Berry looks at 1995, the year the conservatives won both houses of Congress, but in a very limited way: he only reviews the influence of environmental groups and conservative family issues groups. In this 1995 analysis, he reports that the 104th Congress gave victories to the liberal enviros on 10 of 12 environmental bills. But eight of the 10 wins were defensive wins, to prevent environmental roll-backs. Only two wins were offensive ones. Berry acknowledges, "It may very well be that the only reason the environmentalists did comparatively well is that it's much easier to defend the existing statutes than to go on the offensive to try to get new ones enacted...There may be something to the idea that today it is easier for interest groups to play defense than offense." (31) But these observations do not derail him from claiming that the post-material, liberal, environmental citizen groups continued their sway over conservative citizen groups, despite the new conservative control of Congress.

Third, he entirely excludes appropriations committee hearings from his review. In reviewing Berry's book, Leslie Lenkowsky observes, "...appropriations [have been] a matter of considerable importance to nonprofit groups during the past 20 years..." (32) Berry says, "Conservative citizen groups deserve some of the credit for growing public pressure to balance the budget and shrink government....[although] There is no conclusive evidence that these groups' campaigns helped to cause these shifts..." (33) Nevertheless, "...unquestionably budgetary policy favored the conservatives between 1981 and 1998..." (34)

Fourth, he does not study conservatives' impact on federal courts (conservatives controlled the White House from 1981-1992, therefore, made numerous new appointments to the courts), nor on state-level politics or public opinion changes. (35) Lenkowsky writes, " gauge fully the impact of [civic action groups], looking at other components (including executive branch decisions and arenas outside Washington) is necessary." (36)

Finally, Berry does not include think tanks in his analysis of citizen groups, even though he counts as citizen groups the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, Children's Defense Fund and Congress Watch, among others, which have just as tenuous roots to citizens as do the think tanks. He does not track the think tanks and their influence on Congressional agendas, or on legislation, because he equates them as extensions of business. "Many conservative think tanks are really just another vehicle for corporate advocacy." (37) He tracks as citizen groups only conservative post-material groups, like the Christian Coalition (which has 24 Index citations), the Moral Majority (3), the National Right to Life Committee (7), i.e., those focused on family values, and the NRA (8). Thus, the many think tanks and their substantial influence on economic and business issues, by and large, are ignored. The Heritage Foundation (5 Index citations), Cato Institute (4) and other leading conservative think tanks - primarily focused on economic/budget/taxes/ regulatory/material issues -- are barely mentioned at all.

At one point in his analysis he wonders if the extremely low performance of the conservative citizen groups he is tracking is artificially low because of his exclusion of think tanks from the "citizen group" category. Recoding his data for 1991 to include think tanks, he observes that conservatives participated in lobbying on twice the number of high-salience issues in Congress as before. But this was only four out of 44 such issues, while the new liberals were active lobbyists on 29 issues. So Berry essentially dismisses conservative think tanks as largely irrelevant to the national legislative scramble. (38) As will be seen below, others disagree with Berry on the role and effectiveness of think tanks in Washington.

Why Has There Been A Diminution Of Progressive Policy Making?

  1.  The Conservatives Take Over Policy Making

From 1969-1992, conservatives had control of the White House for all but four years. This allowed great initiative in policy making. For example, Richard Nixon sought to dismantle Lyndon B. Johnson's War on Poverty by appointing noted conservative ideologue Howard Phillips as head of the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) with an avowed public purpose of eliminating the headquarters agency for the War on Poverty and all its programs. While Phillips was not substantively successful in this effort (all the programs were continued under other federal government departments), he was symbolically successful, by virtue of killing the OEO itself.

Even if Nixon and Gerald Ford were not too efficient at enacting and implementing conservative policies during the 1970s, they conditioned America to think in conservative terms and made some headway. Democratic pollster Guy Molyneux recently told Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne Jr. that conservatives in the 1970s both prepared for the Reagan years and helped bring them about. "They really changed what the political dialogue was about," says Molyneux, "in a way that benefitted conservatism." He cited the anti-tax movement and the battle against the Panama Canal treaty as leading to critical changes in public attitudes on domestic issues and foreign policy.(39) Himmelstein adds, "Conservatives...won an important battle [during the 1980s]...They...succeeded in turning liberal into a pejorative label that is a liability for most of those on whom it is pinned." (40) Ricci adds another explanation. The failure of the political parties after the 1968 Democratic convention and the Watergate scandal created a vacuum which anti-government campaigns filled, tapping into the emotions of the grassroots.(41) Eisenberg says it most succinctly, "For years, government bashing has been a popular public sport..." (42)

Douglas R. Imig, in Poverty and Power: The Political Representation of Poor Americans, seeks to explain why the federal withdrawal from progressive policy making went unchallenged, identifying that no massive mobilization for social justice emerged during the 1980s and early 1990s. Imig examines the failure of advocacy group efforts, complicated by the political passivity of the poor themselves, to generate national mobilization for social justice.(43) Steve Valocchi, in Contemporary Sociology, reviewing Imig's book, observes that the activism of advocacy groups for the poor was not activism that "pushed the envelope" but activism that "made the best of a bad situation." (44)

But a major new force had also come into play. Himmelstein writes, "...even if corporate conservatism lost its cutting edge in the late 1980s, its most important product remained intact. The network of conservative policy-making and policy-discussion organizations underwritten by business money continued to provide a conduit for conservative ideas and personnel into government...[This] legacy...persists into the 1990s..." (45) "...A new group of highly politicized think tanks are a key feature of the 'new Washington,'" according to Hammack, reporting on David M. Ricci's The Transformation of American Politics,1993.(46) According to James A. Smith, in The Idea Brokers:

In the past two decades, the most important function served by the network of conservative think tanks has not been the germination of new ideas, but the creation of a 'new cadre' of professionals...Not only have the dozens of conservative think tanks created a framework for disseminating ideas that exist largely outside the established infrastructure of academic journals, university presses, and commercial publishing,...they have also designed career vehicles for conservative activists and thinkers. The opportunities to publish and write with this 'alternative' infrastructure have given high visibility to some conservative policy analysts, often short-circuiting slower academic routes to prominence...[and] With an eye to the future of the movement, Heritage [Foundation] has also conscientiously nurtured a 'third generation' of conservative leaders, sponsoring college interns and young policy aides who come to work in Washington's bureaucracy and providing a meeting ground for them while they are in town.(47)

More recently, Callahan writes, "...Conservative think tanks are well positioned to help consolidate and extend the major conservative policy gains of recent years. ...they have perfected their strategies for building elite and public support for policy ideas through extended campaigns that reframe broad arguments, popularize specific blueprints for action, and mobilize grassroots support." (48)

Hart observes that "...the right has organized itself systematically, much more than previously, to use the economic resources of corporate America to advance a conservative agenda...Progressives, especially in recent decades, have not paid as careful attention to the cultural dimensions of politics - and especially to values and religious traditions - as has the right. Progressives often fail to articulate, and sometimes even try to hide, the ethical values that ground their proposals. The right, meanwhile, engaging in discourse that is generally more passionate and transcendent, has seized the discursive high ground." (49)

Meanwhile, the conservatives took over both houses of Congress in 1995, and conservatives regained control of the White House in 2001.

  1. Conservative Foundations' Strategic Philanthropy in Building the Conservative Movement

Considering that conservatives controlled the White House from 1981 to 1992 and that conservative think tanks at both the state and national level grew in number, size and influence during these years,(50) the year 1995, as conservatives took control of Congress, looked to be rather pivotal for public policy.

Sally Covington and Larry Parachini interviewed 44 national foundation executives in the summer of 1995 to discover what new foundation policies and programs were being implemented in the Newt Gingrich era. They discovered that nothing much was being implemented, and that most foundations were only in the thinking and planning stage.

None of the foundation representatives ...indicated that proposed [government] budget cuts or other policy changes [had] caused them to reassess their current program priorities or grant making strategies in a major way....Only two of the 44 foundation representatives interviewed for this study reported having redirected grant dollars for new program purposes since conservatives gained control of Congress last November....And not a single representative from the mainstream of the foundation community suggested that an appropriate response might be to support low income and other disenfranchised citizens to participate more fully and effectively in defining and shaping public priorities...In all the conversations with funders, which included representatives from large and small, national and local, and progressive and mainstream foundations, no movement was detected in the grant making community to redirect grant dollars to community organizing, issue advocacy, grassroots coalition-building, voter registration and education, or other projects to expand citizen participation, particularly in disenfranchised communities.(51)

About this time, while the progressive and mainstream foundations were contemplating the conservative revolution taking place, Covington began examining what the conservative foundations had done to build the conservative political and policy juggernaut that had emerged. She reviewed the 1992-94 grant making of 12 leading conservative foundations, as well as the missions, activities, staffs and boards of their major grantees.(52)

Covington documented that these 12 conservative foundations had granted $210 million over that three-year period for support of the conservative policy infrastructure. It is not that the total amount of money was so huge -- after all, Jenkins and Halcli had documented that foundations had put $88 million into progressive social movements in just one year (1990),(53) and the Ford Foundation gives away more than $400 million per year. It was the systematic and strategic nature of the conservative foundations' grant making that riveted the attention of Covington, and subsequently, many in the social activist and foundation worlds.

Primarily at the national level, but also some at the local level, the grant making supported creation and development of conservative intellectuals, policy think tanks, alternative media and media watchdog groups, pro-market law firms, and new religious and philanthropic associations. National voices were developed to help the grassroots frame local issues. In addition, promising young people were given fellowships and scholarships to enable them to become conservative movement activists while pursuing their studies. And as they completed their college work, they were recruited as prime candidates into conservative movement organizations. Considerable money was also spent on connecting the national and local levels on a regular basis, both face-to-face in conferences and meetings and through technology.(54)

The conservative policy juggernaut had "profound...political implications and policy consequences," reported Covington. "First, heavy investments that conservative foundations have made in new right policy and advocacy institutions have helped create a supply-side version of American politics in which policy ideas with enough money behind them will find their niche in the political marketplace regardless of existing citizen demand. Second, the multiplication of institutional voices marketing conservative ideas and mobilizing core constituencies to support them has resulted in policy decisions that have imposed a harsh and disproportionate burden on the poor." (55)

Taking a longer historical look at the phenomenon of conservative foundation funding of a political movement, Mark Dowie, in American Foundations: An Investigative History, writes,

What is relatively new is that sometime in the late-1960s the Right borrowed a stratagem from the Left: it began to combat 'progressivism' with its own philanthropy. Among the tactics emulated in creating what Paul Weyrich calls 'the new conservative labyrinth' was the use of strategically placed foundation grants to foster and promote political ends. The Reagan revolution was substantially, though not completely, foundation-funded. The labyrinth has created an ideological base and organizational infrastructure for the rise of conservative power since1980." (56)

Following up Covington's report, Callahan examined the missions, policy foci, activities and finances of the top 20 conservative think tanks nationally.(57) He calculated that these institutions would spend $1 Billion for Ideas (which is also the title of his report) during the 1990s. These ideas include privatization of public goods and services, such as Medicare, Social Security and education; elevation of the market as "the prime mechanism for social arbitration and resource allocation;" (58) deregulation of occupational health and safety, as well as consumer safety and environmental protections; limitation of nonprofits' rights to lobby; elimination of welfare and other entitlements; destruction of affirmative action; and reduction of government spending and taxes across the board.

Callahan continues, "Early generous support by conservative foundations and wealthy individuals has enabled many of these institutions to develop impressive fund raising apparatuses, allowing them to diversify their funding bases and attract even higher levels of donor support. Many of the institutions examined now receive as much as two-thirds of their funding from individual and corporate supporters." (59) In fact...."significant budget growth characterizes the development trajectory of many of the policy groups [studied] in this report." (60)

In the conservative "foundation-driven restructuring of the American think tank," observes Dowie, "gone is the drab office full of tweedy wonks pumping out turgid white papers that no one reads. Communications, marketing, grassroots mobilization, and constituency development are departmental functions of the new conservative think tanks hosed in suites of offices rivaling those of a Fortune-500 corporation." (61)

Importantly, according to Callahan, "There is no mainstream or left-of-center parallel to the critical mass of conservative policy institutions currently operating in the U. S. today. Conservative policy institutions tend to be multi-issue organizations with multi-million dollar budgets, powerful corporate boards, and significant media access." (62)

  3.  Liberals' Control of Congress Encouraged Progressive Policy Silos

After their ascendant 1960s and consolidating 1970s, progressives began losing influence once Ronald Reagan was elected president. The progressive movement has continued its decline to this day. Why have progressives been so slow to respond to their political decline?

After the defeat of Barry Goldwater for President in 1964, conservatives regrouped and began building a political movement which included the creation of a whole new set of nonprofit support and development organizations. Not only did they think in terms of a broad movement to take control of government, but also that the movement had to root out the "liberal rot" in the primary institutions that contribute to public policy formation -- academia, the media, the law, religion and philanthropy. (63)

Progressives, meanwhile, became enamored with utilizing, improving, expanding and reforming the vast number and variety of categorical government social programs enacted during the 1960s. Essentially they locked themselves into "policy silos," i.e., nonprofit organizations narrowly focused on categorical programs.

Despite the fact that conservatives controlled the White House for all but four years from 1969-1992, progressives were able to move forward their agendas in limited ways. The progressives were successful because Democrats controlled Congress most of this period and the progressives thus had easy access to congressional committee leaders. Conservatives, meanwhile, according to Berry, had a "difficult" time getting "their issues framed the way they wanted..." (64)

Progressive nonprofit groups produced incremental improvements to low-income housing law; made space for community development corporations; advocated for incremental changes in laws and benefits affecting low-income and welfare families, then advocated for all children when financial support was reduced or eliminated for low-income people and welfare recipients; protected gains in the environmental field, occasionally expanding protections; expanded the reach of affirmative action; and so on. But major changes, like were enacted in the 1960s and even the 1970s, were impossible.

  4.  The Trap of Policy Silos for Progressive Policy Making

As Bill Clinton took over the White House in 1993, liberals' and progressives' hopes blossomed for the major policy changes they had been denied for so long. However, the Clinton White House moved away from progressives' agendas in the wake of the devastating defeat of Clinton's health care initiative early in his first term and after burning significant political capital pushing a new policy for gays in the military.

After conservatives then took control of Congress in 1995, even incremental progressive programs came to a halt. The mandate for progressive social change that had originated from the 1960s had run its course. With few exceptions, progressives had no one to turn to in Washington.

Progressive and liberal organizations have been slow to comprehend the new scenario in which conservatives wield substantial congressional power and strongly influence the White House agenda (including when Clinton was in the White House). They are not thinking and acting the way conservatives did after the Goldwater defeat. They have not forged a broad central vision (or visions) which can elicit support from the large middle class. The embedment of progressives in their policy silos - low income housing, community development, children's rights, environment, minority rights, gay/lesbian rights, etc. -- prevents them from seeking common ground together and with the middle class. Progressives' basic belief in grassroots democracy, the soil of which 1000 flowers shall bloom, continues to hamper the consensus that may be necessary to combat the bold conservative vision that has shaped much of our public policy since 1981.

Identity politics is another aspect of the policy silo entrapment. Racial/ethnic minority rights, women's rights, gay/lesbian rights, disabled rights - all have been promoted to the virtual exclusion of all other claims from community. Identity rights have overwhelmed community concern issues within the progressive community. Issues of personal safety, community safety and effective public education have been stymied because of identity politics. The only community concern issue ruled by progressives is environmental movement. The conservatives have taken the high road on all other community concerns and gained the increasing response and votes of the middle class.

The conservative vision may be reducible to nothing more than less government, lower taxes, and more money in private pockets, but it has captured a substantial portion of popular votes. "...Conservatives have presented an image of society in which government plays a minimal role in producing and distributing goods and services," writes Himmelstein. "They have pictured big government as the problem rather than the solution to America's various economic problems...the general image of less government has appeal, especially when the issue is taxes."(65)

"[However,]" as Himmelstein concludes, "...a substantial majority of Americans believe government has broad responsibilities for promoting specific areas of social well-being; they oppose cutbacks in government spending in most social welfare areas...most Americans expect an activist government...Americans are symbolically conservative but substantively liberal...Those who oppose conservatism - whether they call themselves liberals, progressives, populists, or something else - are often more in tune with these practical sentiments but have failed to articulate an effective political vision." (66)

Hart seeks to explain why progressives have failed to capitalize on this. "...Progressive politics often uses modes of discourse that are cautious and constrained to the point of being anemic..." He argues that "recovering the capacity to express moral outrage, universal claims of justice, and visions of a better society is essential if progressive political initiatives are to prosper - or deserve to prosper." (67)

What Has Philanthropy Done To Counter The Decline Of Progressive Policy?

  1.  Introduction

Momentous events took place in the United States during the 1960s. President John F. Kennedy challenged the nation, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country," stimulating a love-in for government and public policy.(68) Michael Harrington's Other America opened a huge window on poverty in America. Rachael Carson's Silent Spring became the clarion call for the new environmental movement. Betty Friedan articulated women's quest for equality, kindling the modern women's movement. The defeat of Barry Goldwater in his run for the Presidency in 1964 galvanized formation of today's conservative political movement. The civil rights movement of/for African Americans grew substantially and matured politically; significant legislation was enacted affecting voting rights, public accommodations and affirmative action. President Lyndon Baines Johnson proclaimed and funded a massive federal War on Poverty. Martin Luther King, Jr., civil rights leader extraordinaire, was assassinated. Urban race riots flashed in Watts (Los Angeles), Detroit, Washington, DC and other cities. Ralph Nader published Unsafe at Any Speed, jump starting the modern consumer movement. The Vietnam War grew into a monster and stateside protests became everyday occurrences. Working class white males began complaining about the new preferences in education and employment being given to Blacks and women.

During this decade of profound social change, the Ford Foundation and a few other foundations supported highly controversial activities, incurring the wrath of key congressional leaders. These controversies, along with other foundations' financial abuses of their tax-exempt positions, led to the Tax Reform Act of 1969, which initiated substantial new regulation and taxing of private foundations.

To counter this destabilizing situation, John D. Rockefeller III organized the Commission on Private Philanthropy and Public Needs (the Filer Commission).(69) The Donee Group subsequently organized to offer non-establishment perspectives on the Filer Commission's deliberations in1973-75. The Donee Group produced several papers decrying the very limited philanthropic funding of social activism and nonprofit advocacy.(70) The Filer Commission and Donee Group issued their final reports in 1975, creating national controversy around issues of philanthropic equity for all peoples.(71) And in a keynote address at the Council on Foundations annual conference, noted foundation leader David Hunter castigated foundations for their failure to support the civil rights movement. (72)

Emerging from the momentous 1960s, the national deliberations of the Filer Commission and the Donee Group and Hunter's challenge set a new direction for philanthropy for funding of progressive social action. What is its significance today within philanthropy? What have changes wrought by this new philanthropy meant for democratic policy making in America? As the conservative political movement continues to gain headway, and as progressive influence declines, why have progressives been so slow to respond to their political decline? Why has foundation funding of progressive social movements and social action failed to reverse this decline?

  2.  Foundation Funding of Progressive Causes

Politically conservative scholars contend that mainstream foundations provide substantial money to progressive causes. In 1994, Althea Nagai, Robert Lerner and Stanley Rothman wrote,

...given the well-documented liberalism of the academy and U.S. intellectuals, and the close relationship of both to foundations, one would predict a continued preponderance of funding oriented toward [the proposing of] liberal policy...Independent foundations give to activist groups seeking to alter government policy....Most recipients of such funds are either liberal or radical leftist groups (emphasis added).(73)

The Manhattan Institute's Heather MacDonald writes, "Once an agent for social good, the biggest U. S. foundations have become a political battering ram targeted at American society." (74)

However, coming from a different political perspective, scholar and community foundation director Emmett Carson asks, "...why has institutional philanthropy, widely believed to be the primary source of venture capital for new and controversial ideals, apparently not fulfilled this role in the area of social justice advocacy?" (75) Even more pointedly, historians Barry D. Karl and Stanley N. Katz indicate that the philanthropic horizon holds no threat to the ruling classes, and believe that much of organized philanthropy is the means to maintain such classes and keep democracy within bounds.(76)

Considering these contradictory assessments of foundation support for progressive causes, what can the data and case studies about trends in foundation funding tell us?

J. Craig Jenkins first looked at foundation funding of progressive social movements using 1953 data, identifying only three foundations making $85,700 in grants, which was 0.00001% of all foundation grants. By "social movement" he meant "a collective attempt to organize or represent the interests of a previously unorganized or politically excluded group." The 1960s had an important influence on this situation, as by 1970 the number of foundations making social movement grants had grown to 65 and the amount given to $11 million, or 0.6% of all foundation grants.(77)

As one of several assessments of local philanthropy in the late 1970s-early 1980s, the Bay Area Committee for Responsive Philanthropy conducted a survey of 45 local foundations. The Committee's conclusion was that "The foundation community as a whole is either hostile or indifferent to the need for social change funding...Bay Area foundations have failed to actively support organizations working for social change." (78)

During the 1980s, "Advocacy groups scrambled to find new sources of income when the federal government curtailed its support," records Imig in Poverty and Power: The Political Representation of Poor Americans. "The capacities of private foundations, however, were overwhelmed by the magnitude of lost income from federal grants....Much private giving went to direct-service providers, who reported 'dramatic and sometimes even stunning' increases of 50 to 500 percent in demand for their services." (79)

By 1990, Jenkins and Abigail Halcli could document only a modest proportionate increase in social movement funding nationally over the 20 years since 1970. The number of foundations giving to progressive social movements had increased to 146 and their movement grants had grown to $88 million, but this amounted to only 1.1% of all foundation grant monies.(80) Thus, 99% of foundation money did not fund progressive social movements in 1990.

Writing about Social Change Philanthropy in America in 1990, Alan Rabinowitz observes that "Many of [the large foundations] made significant contributions to the social movements of the post-World War II epoch." (81) He adds,

The large foundations have realized since their origins in the nineteenth century that their grants were meant to induce some form of social change, for example, higher educational standards, new forms of social legislation, or the wider use of scientific methods. For most philanthropists, however, social change is problematic, and they prefer that their dollars go to noncontroversial objects of charity. They shy away from what they call 'social change advocacy'...funding of progressive social change activities is a relatively minor item on most philanthropic agendas.(82)

In the early 1990s, the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP), successor to the Donee Group, conducted in-depth studies of 10 of the 50 largest community foundations that, in part, supported the findings of Jenkins and Halcli and Rabinowitz. The NCRP studies were based on 582 mostly on-site interviews concerning these foundations which tout themselves as being the foundations closest to the people. Covington's summary of these 10 studies concluded:

A majority of the community foundations studied have been generally unresponsive to the least advantaged members of their home communities...Six of the ten community foundations distributed less than 50% of their total allocations primarily to benefit disenfranchised people, with five distributing less than 30%...Of the grants awarded primarily to benefit the disenfranchised,...most of the community foundations preferred to support the more established nonprofit organizations engaged in social service provision. The low level of support awarded to community organizing, public policy initiatives, issue advocacy or institutional reform activities suggests that community foundations do not consider social action to be a social good...In sum, neither equity nor empowerment are the primary values in the community work of most community foundations...(83)

When focusing on the community foundations' efforts in support of citizen empowerment, Covington added that "the level of community foundation support for citizen empowerment projects and social action organizations in low income and other disenfranchised communities was exceedingly low." (84)

Reviewing the history of philanthropy of and for Native Americans, African Americans, Latino Americans and Asian Americans, Carson observes, "Some culture-specific groups, despite having a substantial history in the United States, have yet to see elements of their social justice agenda accepted by the broader society or foundations." (85)

The National Network of Grantmakers (NNG) recently concluded that foundations give more for social change than what Jenkins and Halcli (1999) document of foundations' giving for social movements. In 1998, the NNG released a research report based on a survey of its 160 members and on data from the Women's Funding Network.. NNG found that foundations and religious funders made grants of $336 million for progressive social change in 1997, accounting for 2.4% of all foundation funding.(86) This figure is double the percentage Jenkins and Halcli documented for foundation giving to progressive social movements in 1990. Does this mean that foundations are continuing to increase their funding of progressive social movements. Not necessarily; the Jenkins and Halcli and NNG studies are not exactly comparable.(87)

Extrapolating NNG's findings to 2001, 2.4% of all foundation grants ($25.9 billion) would equal $622 million. This would be the total amount available in the U.S. for economic justice organizations designed to improve the status and opportunities for poor people, for racial/ethnic minority organizations, women's rights, disabled rights, advocacy for the aged, environmental protection, consumer rights, children's advocacy, prisoners' rights, gay/lesbian rights, the peace movement, third world advocacy and all other social action. To put the $622 million in perspective, a $1 million nonprofit organization today -- paying modest, but much less than private business, salaries -- can expect to field a staff of 10 with some help from a few interns and part-time consultants. Grassroots organizations usually run on less than $250,000 per year. Considering a normal student's pocket money, these may seem like very well funded organizations. But they are not - they are absolutely not big-time organizations. The American Cancer Society, for instance, spent $712 million in 2001.(88)

The studies of Jenkins and Halcli, Covington and NNG do not support the politically conservative projection of Nagai, Lerner and Rothman that a "preponderance of [foundation] funding [is] oriented toward [proposing of] liberal policy." (89) The empirical study by Nagai, Lerner and Rothman of all large foundations' public policy grants does not itself support their projection. They tallied $170 million in grants in 1986 and early 1987 to "liberal groups...for public policy," (90) an amount equal to only 2.7% of all foundation grants in 1986.(91)

Nevertheless, to Jenkins and Halcli:

Social movement philanthropy....constitutes a highly leveraged form of 'risk capital' philanthropy, having major impact on most of the social movements that have developed in the past four decades. It has fueled these movements in that it has provided needed technical resources and created new organizations that have been vital to securing and implementing movement gains. However, at the same time, it has also reduced the pressure on movement leaders to engage in costly and time-consuming grassroots organizing, thus potentially blunting the impact of these movements.(92)

Dowie in American Foundations: An Investigative History sees the glass to be emptier than Jenkins and Halcli:

...With the single exception of civil rights, foundation interests in America's signature social movements - for women's rights, peace, environment, environmental justice, students, gay liberation, and particularly labor - has been parsimonious, hesitant, late, and at times counterproductive.(93) ...Funds to organizations representing the poor and disadvantaged have always been dwarfed by more and larger grants to public interest research groups and highly professionalized middle-class reform organizations... (94) Moreover, large foundations, no matter how liberal they may be perceived to be by conservative [commentators], not harbor ambitious political strategies; nor do they seek to fundamentally restructure society...most American foundations are centrist, and their philanthropy is cautious and apolitical.(95)

"Mainline foundations tend to take a bland, neutral stance on most of these issues," comments Waldemar Nielsen. "It represents a lack of courage, an unwillingness to get into controversy. It's a kind of hiding out from reality." (96)

  1. Corporate Funding of Racial/ethnic Populations,  Civil Rights, Race Relations & Advocacy

Because the civil rights movement gave racial/ethnic minorities unparalleled leverage over corporations during the past quarter century, as the corporations implemented (or delayed) legally required affirmative action regarding employment and government contracting, NCRP sought to ascertain the state of corporate funding targeted for racial/ethnic populations. Three reports were issued between1993 and 2000.(97)

In the latest NCRP corporate study, a review of 124 top companies in 15 major industries, the companies gave $180 million for racial/ethnic populations in 1995. Against profits of $109 billion (99 companies reporting), this amounts to only 1/6 of 1% of pretax profits. Moreover, only 40% of these grant dollars went to organizations controlled by racial/ethnic populations. Why is constituency control important for democratic governance? Since its inception in 1969 the Catholic Campaign for Human Development has required its grantees to be constituency controlled based on the firm belief that such organizations offer the best opportunity for resolving social ills and raising up leaders to represent the disadvantaged.

In the three NCRP corporate studies, the category of funding that is closest to being pure social change is the category of "civil rights, race relations and advocacy." These numbers may be the most telling regarding what is happening to corporate funding of social change. In 1988, the top profit-making companies gave 2.0% of their total grants to this category. In 1993, the top telecommunications companies gave 1.6%. In 1995, the top companies in 15 other major industries gave only 0.5%.(98)

The Foundation Center data are similar to the NCRP data. The Center reports that corporate foundations gave 1.0% for "civil rights and social action" in 1989 (1988 data were not available), dropping to 0.7% in 1993 and 1995.(99) Corporate support for advocacy by and for racial/ethnic minorities at this level is proportionately comparable to foundations' support for progressive social movements and social change, according to Jenkins and Halcli and NNG. These findings challenge Lester Salamon's exploratory assessment that there is no correlation between corporate support and nonprofit advocacy.(100)

The conservatives, on the other hand, had no doubt about this linkage. In 1987 the Capital Research Center initiated a series of reports that rated corporate funding of progressive nonprofits. These were disseminated to directors of major corporations nationwide with the intent of reducing this funding.(101) A few years later, Dave Ransom documented anti-abortion activists' attacks on corporations for their grants to women's organizations advocating pro-choice policies.(102)

  4.  United Ways Do Not Fund Social Change

United Ways, which used to be, maybe even today are, the most well known of all charities. These are federated fund raising drives - one in every city in the U.S. - 1400 nationwide. They principally raise money from employee payroll deductions at the workplace and from corporate donations, but increasingly they raise large contributions from wealthy individuals. They raised $3.5 billion in 1998. As with foundations, United Ways give little to social movements such as women's rights, minority civil rights and disability rights. They give virtually nothing to environmental organizations or consumer protection.

Because United Ways give so little to groups seeking to expand the promises of democratic governance, thousands of smaller and otherwise excluded charities started their own federated fund raising organizations which actively compete with United Ways for workplace donations. There are over 200 across the country, and they raised $310 million in 1997.(103) Many of these alternatives are discussed in the last section of this chapter.

  5.  Project Support instead of Core Support

It is instructive to contrast the path taken by conservative foundations -- in funding a public policy infrastructure for the conservative political movement -- to the path taken by mainstream foundations. Moving a Public Policy Agenda: The Strategic Philanthropy of Conservative Foundations, NCRP's 1997 study, concludes that, in "funding a policy movement, rather than specific program areas, [the 12 conservative foundations studied] distinguish themselves from the philanthropic mainstream, which has long maintained a pragmatic, non-ideological and field-specific approach to the grant making enterprise." (104)

The conservative foundations' general support for a movement contrasts sharply with the project funding of most other foundations. According to a recent NCRP study of foundation funding of grassroots organizations, involving 26 grassroots organizations, two-thirds of the grassroots organizations believe they do not receive an adequate level of core or general operating support from foundations. (105)

The leaders of these nonprofits offer the following rationales for more core support:

We could be more flexible; it would be easier to build long term capacity.

We wouldn't have to do so many little specific projects.

We could do what we wanted!

You can't do a project if you can't do your core work; you have to take care of basic needs, just like in a family.

Project dollars don't pay for essential overhead costs.

Core support is essential to do actual programs, to maintain the organization, to continue the organization.

You need core support for necessary shifts in your program; you can't shift so easily if you are locked into funded projects.

We need core support to make us a stronger group.(106)

A recent study of 73 charities actively engaged in state public policy change on behalf of poor people and other "under-represented communities" reveals that the "the number one gap in the [California] public policy nonprofit landscape is the scarcity of foundation funds...[Moreover], over half of the total foundation dollars in this sample were distributed among [only] ten of the nonprofit organizations, while many of the remaining 63 [organizations] ...received little or no funding for their policy work." (107)

"Overall, foundation funding for nonprofit organizations was uneven, transitory...Many respondents noted the instability of the foundation funding they did receive. A majority of grantees were funded year by year or, if fortunate, for two years" (108)...This "prevalent short term grant making is ineffective in creating policy change," Drabble and Abrenilla conclude.(109) "The few organizations that did receive large, long-term grants reported that they were able to be more strategic about their overall activities and policy plans as a direct result of this support." (110)

Foundation funding is "almost always project driven," report Drabble and Abrenilla.(111) "General operating support is rare, but has tremendous potential for advancing policy efforts. [Only 16% of the total funding from foundations was general operating support. The] "study results suggest that increased funding of general operating support would allow public policy nonprofits to respond readily and creatively to emerging policy issues, to increase involvement in policy-related activities, to improve communications, and to provide better education and leadership development in communities." (112)

Looking at national data from The Foundation Center, general support constituted only 14% of all foundation grant dollars in 1999, about the same as reported above, whereas program or project support was at 43%. (Capital support, unspecified, research, student aid and other make up the other 43%.) "Large, staffed foundations tend to award [an even] greater share of program grants and a lesser share of general support grants..." (113)

Grant seekers can't change the power imbalance between donors and themselves -- donors have money, thus power, and grant seekers want some of this money and power in order to make the world better. But donors can choose to give money for core organizational funding, rather than for specific projects or programs. Steve Burkeman, secretary of the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust in the United Kingdom and author of the annual Allen Lane Lecture in 1999, correctly points out that, by following the project/program course, donors retain maximum control. However, by granting core funding, donors, in effect, transfer "more of the power of choice" to the grantee -- "the transfer of money is also the transfer of power." (114)

Core support can be revolutionary. Perhaps that is why core funding is much more often granted to institutions of higher education or arts and culture -- which are not likely to do anything revolutionary -- than to grassroots organizations in low-income neighborhoods, activist immigrant groups, or organizations of the disabled and marginalized racial/ethnic groups -- which might. One explanation for the correlation between core funding and certain institutions is based on "class affinity." Staff and board leaders of arts or higher education organizations are fundamentally of the same class as the donors, whereas leaders of many grassroots groups are distinctly not. The donor brain thinks, "We can trust Yale University and the Metropolitan Opera to do the 'right thing.'"

With foundation and other philanthropic grant money for progressive social movements and social change quite limited, foundations focused on policy targets of opportunity, in an attempt to use this small amount of money efficiently and to increase accountability for its use. This led to an increase in the proportion of funding for project grants over institution-building, general operating support grants. This project funding aided and abetted development of policy silos and policy incrementalism, as discussed above.

  1. Summary - The Insufficiency of Philanthropic Funding for Progressive Causes

During the first six months after conservatives took control of Congress in 1995, mainstream foundations took no action, preferring instead to think about what was happening, and in some cases, to study the new situation.(115) Slowly foundations have emerged from their backrooms, but their thinking still remains where it had been before the conservative takeover of Congress and the presidency. They still believe they have leverage over public policy and that they are smarter than any organizations in the field.

Meanwhile, progressive advocacy organizations continue to work within their policy silos, often hampered as much by their foundation funding as helped. Drabble and Abrenilla found that foundation funding of nonprofit advocacy at the state level (California) was so categorical that the boundaries defining nonprofit missions became "barriers to permeation and cross-issue connections." Organizations operating in isolation failed to work with stakeholders outside their traditional networks, thereby failing to "advance broader changes." (116)

Therefore, with so little philanthropic funding from foundations and corporations, and so much of it trapped in project funding and policy silos, progressives have had difficulty advancing their agendas of equity and justice for all. In contrast, conservative foundations' strategic philanthropy -- not just grant dollars -- underwrote a public policy infrastructure of think tanks, lobbying networks, academic programs and new media for the increasingly powerful conservative movement.

Why has a countervailing philanthropy not emerged to foster creation of a broad progressive movement capable of exerting national power? The answer is three-fold. First, government and foundation grants for narrow projects ghettoized progressive nonprofits into "policy silos" -- narrow issue areas, such as low-income housing, inimical to broad-based coalition building. Second, liberal control of Congress through 1994 enabled the policy silos to enact incremental progressive gains. Third, after conservatives took control of Congress in 1995, neither foundations nor nonprofits have been able to climb out of their policy silos to construct broad-based coalitions that develop a progressive policy agenda including attention to middle-class voters' interests.

A new, holistic progressive vision, which includes the middle class, will not be forged unless existing nonprofit organizations get together to talk, think, coalesce and conceptualize this new vision (or several). Unfortunately, stimulating this kind of dialogue is not an item on the agendas of most of the leading mainstream foundations, whose egocentric agendas remain encased in the old policy silos.

The Origins And Growth Of Progressive Foundations As Alternatives To Mainline Philanthropy.

The preceding discussion has focused on the overall inadequacy of foundation and corporate funding of social action. But is there a subgroup of foundations which has engaged wholeheartedly in "progressive philanthropy"? How does it compare to mainline foundations' and corporations' support for social action? Has it made any difference for the disadvantaged and disenfranchised in American society?

  1.  Definition of "Progressive Philanthropy"

But what is "progressive philanthropy"? To David Hunter, generally considered the dean of social change foundation executives (he was executive director of the Stern Family Fund from 1963-1986), "social change philanthropy" essentially differs from "traditional philanthropy" because it "aims explicitly to facilitate the changing of societal institutions so they don't produce the very problems that 'charity' tries to alleviate." (117)

To Alan Rabinowitz, a seminal chronicler of social change philanthropy, American social change philanthropists...take the risk of being controversial as they try to empower disadvantaged people to make permanent improvements in their social and economic environments and in the basic institutions of our society that affect their lives...Social change philanthropy entails the inherent risk of encouraging challenges to [the existing] order and its institutions. [It helps] create a fairer, cleaner, safer, more democratic, poverty-free world...Progressive social change philanthropy provide[s] essential support for grantees concerned about impediments (or threats) to civil liberties, economic well-being, minority rights (including citizenship and voter registration), health, and environmental safety (especially with regard to toxics and waste disposal).(118)

Some of the funders I surveyed prefer to support local grass-roots organizing efforts. Some prefer to support policy-formulating think tanks and national campaigns concerning issues involving the environment, children, health, peace, and on through the long list of possible categories. Some fund across the entire spectrum of opportunities.(119)

  2.  Revolution or Reform?

Do social change philanthropists seek revolution or reform of America's basic institutions? "We have come a long way toward a more stable and equitable socioeconomic system since Marx wrote The Communist Manifesto...," Rabinowitz explains.(120) He cites economist Robert Heilbroner: "Less than 75 years after it officially began, the contest between capitalism and socialism is over; capitalism has won...The history of every democratic capitalist nation is one of a widening provision of 'entitlements,' over the nearly universal opposition of business...The bone of contention is no longer the principle of entitlements but their reach and level." (121)

Rabinowitz says,

[The] job that progressive social change philanthropists have taken on [is] to strike some sort of balance between the universal class of 'businesspersons' - who Heilbroner says dominate, even in social democratic nations -- and the rest of the population...[Social change philanthropists] seem to share strong feelings about the inequalities generated by our present mixed economic system, they value the positive roles that governmental powers and monies can plan in reducing economic and social disparities, and, to improve the way capitalism operates, they encourage the growth of cooperatives and worker-owned-and-managed enterprises in low-income communities. The political objectives of the progressive social change philanthropists include greater respect for the U.S. constitution and passage of reformist legislation, neither of which would alter the basic governmental framework of the United States.(122)

As one who, from 1976-99, directed the country's only nonprofit watchdog organization focused on philanthropy's responsiveness to the disadvantaged and disenfranchised peoples, the author agrees with Rabinowitz' foregoing assessment. Many social change philanthropists rail against capitalism and its evils, but their bark is hardly their philanthropic bite. Some prefer socialism as a governmental system -- not communistic socialism, but democratic socialism, as practiced by the best European countries - but their grants basically seek incremental reform of the current system.

  3.  Who Exactly Are the Progressive Foundations?

Is there a group of foundations which are often called "progressive foundations"? Yes. Mostly, they would be represented in the membership of the National Network of Progressive Grantmakers (NNG), "an organization of individuals involved in funding social and economic justice."(123)

When J. Craig Jenkins and Abigail Halcli rigorously studied foundation funding in 1990, they identified 146 foundations actively making grants for progressive social movements. Seven years later, NNG listed 160 organizations in its 1997 Grantmakers' Directory. The Foundation Center reports that 44,000 foundations existed that same year. Thus, under 0.4% of all foundations possibly could be considered progressive foundations.

Of course, some of Jenkins and Halcli's 146 foundations and NNG's 160 grant making organizations are not "wholeheartedly" into progressive philanthropy, but only make some grants in this category, e.g., the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and Ford Foundation.

In fact, of the foundations Jenkins identified as supporting progressives causes, he found their grants go "overwhelmingly to conventional charitable activities and established institutions." (124)

Jenkins identifies twelve foundations active in social movement philanthropy as early as 1960.(125) They were the Field Foundation of NY, Emil Schwartzhaupt, Wiebolt, Huber, Whitney, New York, Norman, New World , Taconic, Ottinger, Institute for World Order and the New York Community Trust. All but the last could be considered "wholehearted" progressive foundations.

In Social Change Philanthropy in America, Rabinowitz identified the following additional foundations as progressive foundations: Stern Family Fund (established 1930s), Needmor Fund (1956), Abelard (1958), Shalan (1969), Youth Project (1970), Belden Fund (1970), DJB , Joint Foundation Support, Threshold , A Territory Resource, Doughnuts, Seventh Generation Fund, Ruth Mott Fund, C. S. Fund/ Maryanne Mott Charitable Trust, J. M. Kaplan, Stewart R. Mott Trust and Rockefeller Family Fund.(126) This list is only illustrative, not exhaustive. Moreover, some spent themselves out of business, while others continue on.

"...a network of progressive social change philanthropists emerged out of the confusion of the times," reports Rabinowitz. "David Hunter of the Stern Fund, David Ramage of the New World F., and later the staff of the Youth Project and Leslie Dunbar of the Field F. [were] leading examples of this process.(127) "A network of progressive social change funders took shape in the late 1960s...its present members represent only a tiny fraction of the philanthropic efforts in America.(128) "The NNG, a progressive complement to associations of more traditional foundations, was created [in 1978] as a meeting ground..." (129)

"The Youth Project merits special attention in any review of progressive social change philanthropy," notes Rabinowitz. "Its initial staff members and grantees...remained leaders in the field...of a score of organizations, for example, Drummond Pike with the Tides and Threshold Foundations, Dick Boone with the Field Foundation [now with Tides Foundation], Heather Booth with the Midwest Academy and the Citizens Action movement [now a progressive political consultant in Washington, DC], Wade Rathke now a labor organizer, Steve Kest still with ACORN, Margery Tabankin at Arca Foundation and now Barbra Streisand's foundation, Gary Delgado at the Center for Third World Organizing [now at Applied Research Center], Bill Mitchell of the Nuclear Safety Campaign, Si Kahn of Grassroots Organizing, and the late Willie Valasquez who founded the Southwest Voter Registration Project...and Frank Sanchez...[now with Needmor Fund]." (130)

Does the grant-making process of social change foundations differ from that of mainline foundations? Rabinowitz, an active grant maker as well as student of social change philanthropy, tells us, "The grant-making process [of progressive social change funders] is similar to those of the major foundations, the United Way funds, and even the National Institutes of Health: the process involves debates concerning appropriate topics to be supported, lengthy competitive applications, and site visits and evaluations. Compared to mainstream organizations, however, the social change funders willingly accept a much greater uncertainty of outcome, given the relative instability of community-based groups and the topical nature of many of the issues pursued." (131)

  4.  Origins of Social Change Grant Makers

What were the origins of these social change grant makers? " the early 1960s," Rabinowitz records, "the stage was set for the emergence social change philanthropies, despite the bruises left by McCarthyism." (132)

But the new philanthropies did not just emerge mysteriously out of the woodwork. The momentous events that took place in America during the 1960s, noted earlier, gave rise to aggressive and successful contemporary social movements concerning racial/ethnic peoples, poverty, women and the environment. These movements, in turn, stimulated the creation of the new progressive foundations. According to Jenkins, "This tumultuous period [the 1960s] served as a critical stimulus for foundations by identifying new social problems, creating an impending sense of crisis and generating a host of new political advocacy organizations that bid for foundation support." (133)

But note that the social situation created the impetus and space for the new progressive foundations; the foundations did not create the social movements. Jenkins' data for 1953 and 1960 drive this point home. The sociologist recorded only $344,700 in total progressive social movement grants for those two years combined! Only 12 foundations made 25 movement grants in those two years.(134)

  5.  The Total Social Change Grants of Progressive Foundations

In introducing this section on progressive foundations, it was asked how their social change grantmaking compares to mainline foundations' and corporations' support for social action? The Jenkins and Halcli research on foundation funding of progressive social movements(135) and the National Network of Grantmakers (NNG) research on funding of progressive social change(136) would seem to provide the best sources for an answer to this question. Neither study, however, differentiates data from mainline liberal foundations and progressive foundations, therefore the total social change grants of progressive foundations cannot be calculated. The best that can be said is that a substantial portion of the $336 million NNG tallied for social action grants in 1997 seems to have been awarded by progressive foundations.

The Creation And Growth Of New Private Funding Institutions As Alternatives To Mainline Philanthropy.

  1.  Introduction

American foundation philanthropy grew enormously over the past two decades. From 1980 to 1999, the number of grant-making foundations more than doubled to 50,200. During the 1990s, as the stock market mushroomed, foundation assets grew from $142 billion in 1990 to a record high of $449 billion in 1999, according to The Foundation Center. Private foundations, legally required to pay out annually 5% of assets, therefore, were required to pay out much more in total grants than required in 1990. Indeed, the stock market spurt provided income to expand all foundation grants threefold, from $8.7 billion in 1990 to $27.6 billion in 2000.(137)

Microsoft's Bill Gates and wife Melinda made big headlines by putting enough money into their foundation that it surpassed the Ford Foundation as the largest in the U.S. Other technological wizards who became wealthy also made headlines when creating their own new foundations. But while the philanthropic sector and the media have made much of the growth of mainline foundations, the new technology-begat foundations, and conservative foundations' funding of a nonprofit infrastructure for the conservative political movement, little to no attention has been focused on the creation and growth of alternative funding institutions for progressive social change.

As previously noted, momentous events took place in the USA during the 1960s which gave rise to aggressive and successful contemporary social movements, which in turn stimulated creation of both the new progressive foundations discussed above and new alternative new private funding institutions. They were designed to be more responsive to the social movements than mainline liberal foundations and United Ways. The new private funding institutions spawned by this tumultuous decade focus on people in poverty, racial/ethnic minorities, women, progressive social activism and the environment. They constitute an important new philanthropic phenomenon and, along with the new progressive foundations, have become serious alternatives to mainline philanthropy in funding progressive social change. In this section, the alternative new funding institutions will be discussed summarily, then each type alternative in detail, followed by a summary and conclusions.

  1. Alternative Funding Institutions Provide $106 Million For Progressive Social Change from 248 Individual Funds in 1998

The author's recent research reveals that there are now around 248 of these new private funding institutions. They are religious grant-makers, "alternative funds" and alternative community foundations who generally raise and provide money for progressive social change. The 248 institutions are estimated to have granted or distributed $106 million circa 1998.(138) This is a philanthropic phenomenon that no one could have predicted, because 30 years ago, few of the alternatives existed. See Table 1 below.


Type of Fund Number of Funds $ Granted/ Distributed -- millions Year Primary Focus Year First Established
Religious Funders 13 $26.3u 1998 Community-Based Organizations 1959
Black United Funds 23 $ 4.6u 1998 African-Americans 1969
Social Action Funds 44 $ 6.7 1997 Social Action 1970
Women's Funds 73 $15.9u 1998 Women and Girls 1972
Alternative Community Foundations: Funding Exchange foundations 16 $13.2 1998 Community-Based Organizations 1972
Alternative Community Foundations: Tides Foundation 1 $20.0 1998 Community-Based Organizations: National Regional and Local 1976
Native American Foundations/Funds 32 $ 3.5 1994 Native Americans 1973?
Lesbian/Gay Foundations 17 $ 1.6 1998 Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transsexuals 1979
Environmental Federatns 20 $12.8 1997 Environment 1982
Hispanic Funds 6 $ 0.9 1997 Hispanics 1980s
Asian Pacific Community Funds 3 $ 0.3 1997 Asian-Pacific Americans 1980s
TOTALS 248 $105.8+      

u = Undercounted are the dollars for Women's Funds, Black United Funds and religious funders, as several funds provided no data.

Table Sources: (1) Robert O. Bothwell, "Alternative Funding Institutions Have Become Serious Competitors with Mainline Foundations in Funding Progressive Social Change," unpublished paper, Washington, DC: National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, Jan. 25, 2001. (2)

To appreciate the $106 million, consider that 12 leading conservative foundations made grants totaling $210 million over three years, 1992-1994, for development and support of nonprofit infrastructure organizations, such as Heritage Foundation and Cato Institute, for the conservative public policy movement.(139) That averages out to $70 million a year.

The alternative funding institutions would generally describe their grantmaking or member distributions in the very same way as the National Network of Grantmakers defines "social change" grantmaking, as "reaching those who are in greatest need of help by giving them the power and opportunity to solve their own problems." (140) But as Susan Ostrander observes, "Not all the women's fund money goes change." (141) And as noted below, some grants of the Native American foundations/funds are for scholarships. Nevertheless, the author's professional experience of 25 years working with the alternative funding institutions leads him to conclude that the alternatives, by and large, fund social change.

The alternatives' primary activities are to raise money in annual campaigns and to give away most of it the same year. They raise money from individual donors (from middle class donors as well as wealthy ones), bequests, church members, employee payroll deductions at the workplace, United Ways, private foundations and corporations. Many of the alternatives have endowments, but these have been vigorously sought by the alternatives themselves rather than benignly bestowed by rich benefactors, and they are usually small.

"Alternative funds," which raise money from employees at the workplace, are the most numerous group of alternatives. There are 87 funds which primarily solicit workplace contributions: 44 social action funds, 20 environmental federations and 23 Black United Funds. However, every type of alternative (except the religious funders) has one or more funds also soliciting some workplace funds, increasing the total of alternatives utilizing employee contributions to around 100. They all originated because of grave dissatisfaction with United Ways' allocations.

The 73 Women's Funds are second most numerous, followed by the 32 Native American Foundations/Funds, 17 lesbian/gay/bisexual/transsexual foundations, the17 alternative community foundations, 13 religious funders, six Hispanic funds and three Asian Pacific community funds.

In calculating the total grants and distributions of the alternative funding institutions that granted or distributed $106 million for progressive social change circa 1998, the author collected data from the Women's Funding Network, the National Black United Fund, Native Americans in Philanthropy, the Funding Exchange, The Working Group on Lesbian and Gay Issues, Interfaith Funders, several individual researchers and the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP). The NCRP's data on workplace alternative funds was collected from a survey of nearly 100 individual funds engaged in raising payroll deduction contributions for progressive social change.

The $106 million granted and allocated for social change by the alternatives and religious funders 1997/1998 (see Table 1) is substantial money indeed. Consider that, as indicated previously, the National Network of Grantmakers reported $336 million granted for progressive social change in 1997. Of this total, private and community foundations gave 79%,(142) or approximately $265 million. Thus, the alternatives' and religious funders' $106 million equals 40% of what all private and community foundations, including both mainline liberal foundations and progressive foundations, gave for social action.

This percentage is striking, especially when compared to the 1990 data developed by Jenkins and Halcli in their study of foundation funding of progressive social movements. According to their study, private and community foundations gave $68 million or 71% of the total of $88 million for social movements, while the alternative funding institutions and religious funders gave $20 million or 29%.(143) While this may be comparing apples and oranges, nevertheless, it seems that the alternative funding institutions and religious funders became more significant within overall philanthropy in funding social movements/social change from 1990 to 1997/1998 .

The fact that alternative funding institutions are now, maybe more than ever, significant funders of progressive social change has major significance for the alternative grant-making movement in the U.S. -- because its participants have traditionally considered themselves as poor relatives of the big private foundations (Ford, Rockefeller, etc.) and the fast growing traditional community foundation movement (typified by the Cleveland Foundation, New York Community Trust and California Community Foundation). Now, the alternatives can take pride, not only in their social change mission, the disenfranchised character of their grantees and members, and in their iconoclastic natures, but also in their significant combined funding record. The alternatives -- at long last -- must be considered a serious source of money for social change in this country.

  3.  How the Alternative Funding Institutions Differ from Mainline Philanthropy

As Table 1 indicates, there are 10 different types of alternative funders which comprise the alternatives to mainline foundations regarding support of progressive social change. Three of the fund types are generally called "alternative funds," as in alternatives to United Ways, which primarily raise contributions in the workplace: social action funds, environmental federations and Black United Funds. Six of the types are "identity based": women's funds, Black United Funds, Native American foundations/funds, Hispanic funds, Asian Pacific American funds and LGBT funds (Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transsexual). The alternative community foundations (the Funding Exchange foundations and Tides Foundation) and religious funders round out the 10 types of alternatives.

The identify of these alternative funders is no surprise. Anyone reasonably familiar with the world of philanthropy has known of their existence. The Foundation News and Commentary, The Chronicle of Philanthropy and other philanthropic media have (ir)regularly reported on them. But prior to this report, no one and no media looked at them all together to assess how they compare to mainline foundations.

Why should they be considered as a group distinct from mainline foundations? Every type of alternative except the religious funders originated because of grave dissatisfaction with how mainline foundations were conducting their grant-making or how United Ways were making allocations -- hence, the identification of them as "alternatives." Instead of being top-down models of philanthropy, such as the mainline foundations and United Ways, they are basically ground-up models, which both expect and permit more of grassroots participation. Most of the alternative foundations and alternative funds are local or state-based, while the religious funders are generally national in scope. They are fundamentally community-based, though often the "communities" are comprised of similar individuals or like-minded causes, rather than geographically bound. The alternatives target their grants narrowly to benefit their special "communities" (i.e., women, racial/ethnic groups, gays and lesbians), or in the case of the alternative community foundations and the religious funders, to support community-based-organizations. The alternative funds soliciting at the workplace distribute their collections to their member organizations. (While some mainline foundations target their grants narrowly as just noted, they are few in number relative to the entire foundation universe.) Most of the alternatives are organized as public charities, rather than as private foundations. (Among the 50,200 grant-making foundations tracked by The Foundation Center, the reverse is true, as private foundations far outnumber the 664 community foundations organized as public charities under IRS laws and regulations.)

Should the religious funders be included in this group at all? All religious funders are not. Only included are the Interfaith Funders organization and its 12 members, such as the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock, the Jewish Fund for Justice, the Presbyterian Church USA (One Great Hour of Sharing Fund) and the Global Ministries of the Methodist Church. They are dedicated to fund low income community organizing and low income community-based-organizations. Moreover, they also self identify with most of the alternatives, often by participating together in conferences, training and planning sessions.

This section will discuss the alternative funding institutions in the chronological order of their appearance on the scene: new religious funders, Black United Funds, social action funds, Women's Funds, alternative community foundations, Native American grantmakers, Tides Foundation/Tides Center, lesbian/gay/bisexual/transsexual foundations, environmental federations, Hispanic funds and Asian Pacific American funds. Refer back to Table 1, the far right column, for the years the alternatives were first established. The funding institutions' origins, critical data and attitudes will be reported.

  4.  The Religious Funders

Using data from Independent Sector, Alan Rabinowitz estimated that religious institutions gave $50 million for progressive social change in 1986.(144) Updating this estimate, based on the 64% increase in giving for religion generally from 1986 to 1998,(145) could mean that $82 million might have been granted for social change in 1998.

Religious funders are a major part of the alternatives that fund social change. Those who targeted their grants on low income community organizing and low income community-based organizations awarded $26.3 million in 1998, thereby providing almost one-third of all religion's total contributions to social change. The Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock, created in 1959, provides $10 million of the total and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), established in 1970, provides $14 million.

Interfaith Funders (IF) is a grant-making consortium of 12 faith-based funders - including CCHD and the Veatch Program -- which banded together in 1998 to raise more money for faith-based community organizing. According to IF's draft 1999 annual report, "The ethos of faith-based community organizing asserts that democracy demands civic participation and action on decisions that affect people's lives...[and provides the] people most affected by social and economic problems with the means to identify, analyze and resolve issues." (146) CCHD and the Veatch Program incorporate this ethos into their individual institutional grant-making as well as in their cooperative IF grant-making. Raising money from the consortium members and from Ford and Surdna Foundations, Interfaith Funders made nearly $1 million in grants during 1998 and 1999. In addition to the IF members listed previously, other members are Claretian Social Development Fund, Domestic Hunger Program of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Dominican Sisters of Springfield, Marianist Sharing Fund, Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi and Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia.

  5.  Black United Funds

Back in the 1960s, Walter Bremond worked with Cummins Engine Company to develop philanthropic institutions that would be controlled by African Americans. The race riot in Los Angeles opened up the possibility of creating the Brotherhood Crusade there in 1969, as the first Black United Fund (BUF) to seek employee charitable contributions at the workplace for African American programs and organizations. The intent was to become an alternative to United Way, which was seen as unresponsive to African American interests, especially about staffing and allocations affecting African Americans.

At this time, United Ways across America were the premier organizations in workplace fund raising, having competition from other charities only in the Federal government's annual charity drive, the Combined Federal Campaign. United Ways were the sole organizations doing workplace fund raising in 99% of American corporations and government offices. More importantly, Bill Aramony was about to take over leadership of United Way of America and elevate United Ways' visibility in the national picture to that of a monolithic giant.

The existence of the Brotherhood Crusade/BUF led to creation of the National Black United Fund (NBUF), the infrastructure organization that has helped create and develop additional BUFs ever since. Under Walter Bremond's leadership, the BUF movement began. One of NBUF's first national actions was to file a lawsuit challenging United Ways' dominance of the Combined Federal Campaign. The lawsuit was eventually successful in 1980, but not until after Congressional and Federal government action had already opened the doors of the CFC to groups like the NBUF. Bremond, unfortunately, died an untimely death in 1982.

Black United Funds (BUFs) were the first of the identity-based funds. Women's funds, Native American foundations, Hispanic funds, Asian Pacific funds and lesbian/gay funds all followed afterwards. BUFs were also the first of the alternative funds seeking workplace donations.

There are 23 BUFs now, all local or state based, except for the National BUF and National Black United Federation of Charities. Unlike the other workplace funds, BUFs are organized more like grant-making foundations than as federations of member charities, and their normal mode of operation is to make grants to diverse African American charities. Though to participate in the Combined Federal Campaign and other public workplace campaigns, they have associate member arrangements which allow them to solicit as federations.

BUFs raised more than $5.5 million locally in 1998 (granting about 50% to grantees) and $2 million nationally(147) (distributing about 90% to member organizations and grantees). Thus, total revenues are $7.5 million, with $4.6 estimated as distributions. Local BUFs distribute less of their revenues than do other workplace alternative funds, because they spend substantial amounts directly on programs, like low income housing development.

  6.  Social Action Funds

The next type of Alternative Fund established was the Social Action Fund. Two were established in Philadelphia and Madison, WI, in the early 1970s, following the lead of the Los Angeles BUF. These funds organized because they believed that neither local foundations nor United Ways provided any money to anti-Vietnam war groups or advocacy organizations working for poor people, racial/ethnic minorities and women. While these two funds did not give rise to the next phase of the Alternative Funds movement -- organizing of new Social Action Funds -- nevertheless, they have survived to this day, albeit under different names and organizational forms (Bread and Roses Community Fund in Philadelphia and Community Shares of Wisconsin).

The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) organized in 1976 to succeed the Donee Group. The NCRP, under the executive direction of the author, soon commenced a major campaign to open up workplace fund raising to nonprofit organizations advocating for poor people, women, racial/ethnic minorities, consumers and the environment. This became known as the Alternative Funds movement. With NCRP providing key on-site assistance, a second wave of Social Action Funds began organizing in 1978 in St. Paul, MN and elsewhere to do workplace fund raising, following the lead of Women's Way in Philadelphia (see later section) and the Black United Funds.

NCRP's first national conference on workplace fund raising was held in Dallas, TX, in 1979 with NBUF and 49 other organizations co-sponsoring. The conference was held in a very modest hotel three blocks from the luxury hotel hosting United Way of America's annual national conference. Major national publicity -- favorable to Alternative Funds -- resulted from this conference. Later in 1979, the first Congressional Hearings on the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) were held to challenge United Ways' dominance. The CFC was the world's largest workplace fund raising campaign, raising money from employees through payroll deductions. The hearings were organized by Rep. Pat Schroeder, NCRP and NBUF. Rep. Schroeder's subcommittee issued a report favorable to expanding the CFC to include nontraditional and advocacy charities, as NCRP and NBUF had sought. Following substantial lobbying by NCRP and its local charity contacts, President Jimmy Carter's Administration issued new regulations in 1980 to open up the CFC to nontraditional and advocacy charities. Over the next several years, these regulations became models for state and local government employee charity campaigns nationwide, as well as for some corporate campaigns.

Following this substantial victory in the CFC, NCRP held its first Washington, DC national conference on workplace fund raising in 1981. The 180 participants came, at their own expense, from all over the USA, from local and national organizations, working in every kind of charitable and public interest organization imaginable. NCRP became the primary infrastructure organization to help create and develop the broad Alternative Funds movement that would erode United Ways' near monopoly of workplace fund raising during the next 20 years.

Meanwhile, after President Ronald Reagan took office in 1981, he proposed and Congress enacted budgets which contained almost no monies for expansion of federal government spending, except for the military. This affected nonprofit organizations throughout the 1980s, causing them to expand their search for non-governmental revenues. Local and national organizations alike looked for new sources of revenue. While much was raised through direct mail, major donor solicitation, and foundation and corporate fund raising, the expansion of workplace fund raising was also a goal for many.

During his tenure, 1981-89, Reagan also proposed two Executive Orders to eliminate the new CFC regulations that allowed advocacy charities to receive Federal employee contributions. Through a combination of lawsuits, tenacious lobbying of Congress and aggressive media work, NCRP and hundreds of other national and local advocacy nonprofit groups forced Reagan to withdraw the Executive Orders. But one lawsuit reached the Supreme Court and was decided unfavorably for advocacy groups. Astute lobbying of Congress, in effect, overturned this decision. Legislation to guarantee advocacy groups' participation in the CFC was then proposed by NCRP and a coalition including national environmental organizations. After again much lobbying, Congress approved it overwhelmingly in 1987.(148) In 2000, the CFC raised $224 million from 1.5 million employee donors; over 41,000 nonprofits receive these contributions.(149)

As the key infrastructure organization behind the Alternative Funds movement, NCRP held seventeen annual national conferences, 1979-1995, to provide training and technical assistance to Alternative Funds involved with workplace fund raising. The conferences complemented NCRP's year-round on-site field work in helping organize and develop Alternative Funds during the same period, and continuing until this day.(150) Steve Paprocki, founding director of the very successful St. Paul, MN Cooperating Fund Drive, the Social Action Fund that was the prototype for the Social Action Fund movement, became the NCRP Field Director in 1985. He was succeeded by Kevin Ronnie in 1990, who left Milwaukee's A CHOICE, another successful Social Action Fund, to join NCRP. Paprocki and Ronnie focused on creating and sustaining new Alternative Funds. Under their guidance, the number of Social Action Funds grew to 44 by 1997.

Seed money from foundations played an important role in helping many Social Action Funds get started. The seed money enabled them to hire a half-time or full-time organizer/director and to pay basic expenses, such as rent, telephone and copying. This lone staff person had responsibilities to recruit additional member organizations; establish the bases for the members to work together; develop publicity for the new fund; seek access to run fund raising campaigns in government, nonprofit, university, hospital and business workplaces; and plan and implement the campaigns to solicit employees to make payroll deduction contributions to the fund and its members.

In 1997, the 44 Social Action Funds (SAFs) raised $7.1 million total by workplace fund raising.(151) However, SAFs also raised other revenues from corporations, foundations and individuals, estimated by the author at $1.8 million, making total SAF revenues $8.9 million. Thus, an average SAF raised $202,000 in total annual revenues. About 25% of the total SAF revenues are for fund raising and administration ($2.2 million), with about 75% distributed to SAF member organizations ($6.7 million).(152)

The Cooperating Fund Drive in St. Paul, MN, organized in the late 1970s, was the inspiration for the organization and development of the rest of the social action funds. CFD, since renamed Community Solutions Fund, raised $1.2 million total revenues in 1999, $865,000 in workplace donations. Other leading social action funds (and their workplace donations in 1999) are Colorado Community Shares ($830,000), which, among social action funds, has the top number of member organizations (89), Greater Cleveland Community Shares ($750,000), Community Shares of Wisconsin ($600,000), A CHOICE (Milwaukee, $540,000) and Community Shares (Knoxville, TN, $300,000). There are from 15-89 members per social action federation. Over 1000 charities are federation members. They include 9 to 5 Working Women Education Fund, ACLU of Michigan, Rethinking Schools, Idaho Conservation League, Peace Action of Michigan, Coalition of Homelessness & Housing in Ohio and Welfare Warriors.

Most of the money from workplace fund raising (70%) came from government employees (federal, state and local) in 1996. Other sources of workplace fund raising revenues were employees in business, colleges, universities and nonprofit organizations and employee/donors giving specifically to Social Action Fund members through United Way donor choice programs.(153) Most Social Action Funds succeeded, first, in gaining access to government employee charity campaigns (federal, state and local government); second, nonprofit organizations, colleges and universities; finally, corporate employee charity campaigns. Social Action Funds have had difficulty in gaining access to corporate charity campaigns. Corporations which already have United Way campaigns either do not want to be bothered or they believe the Social Action Fund member agencies are too "radical" for their taste. Newer corporations with little or no long-term commitment to United Ways have been more willing to grant access to the SAFs.

The 1841 United Ways around the country continue to play the dominant role in workplace fund raising, raising around $2 billion annually from this source, plus raising another $1.4 billion from corporate matching grants and, increasingly, from major individual donors, in their 1999-2000 campaign. However, when United Ways compete head-to-head for employee contributions with Social Action Funds and other Alternative Funds (Environmental Federations -- see below, Combined Health Appeals, United Arts Funds, America's Charities, Black United Funds), they generally receive less than half the contributions if the campaigns are run fairly, giving Alternative Funds the same visibility that United Ways receive.

In 1988, the National Alliance for Choice in Giving (NACG) was established by Alternative Funds to provide additional technical assistance for fund development. NCRP would continue to be the primary infrastructure organization to assist creation and development of new Alternative Funds. But NACG eventually, in the mid-1990s, took over primary provision of technical assistance to existing, older funds. NACG today has 55 member funds/federations in 35 states representing over 1500 individual nonprofit organizations ( These 55 members include Social Action Funds, Environmental Federations and some Women's Funds.

  7.  Women's Funds

Women's funds, after the workplace alternative funds, are the next most numerous of the alternatives. There are 93 current members of the Women's Funding Network, based in San Francisco. In 1998, over 70 funds raised $45.1 million and granted $15.9 million.(154) These numbers understate money raised and granted, however, as several women's funds did not provide data for the Networks most recent survey.

The roots of the women's fund movement go back to the 19th century and the creation of the American Association of University Women's Educational Foundation in 1888, and to creation of the Business and Professional Women's Foundation in 1956. Betty Friedan's The Feminist Mystique was published in 1963 and received extremely high visibility in the media and college campuses all over America. It provided a challenge for women to think about the barriers to their full development, and an agenda for the modern day women's movement. But the civil rights movement for African Americans in the 1960s stimulated modern day thinking, by winning the hearts and minds of many in middle class America and achieving significant legislative victories -- in voting rights and elimination of discrimination in public accommodations and employment. The power of the civil rights movement communicated to a new generation of women that it was time to renew the women's movement started earlier in the century.

The Ms. Foundation was created in 1972, as "the first public foundation providing support to self-help projects for women and girls nationwide." This was a strong stimulus in getting women to think about what could be done to focus philanthropic attention on women and girls. In effect, the concept of a real foundation dedicated to women and girls, no matter how much money it gave out initially, ultimately stimulated the creation of additional Women's Funds nationwide. During the next few years (1972-75), the Commission on Private Philanthropy and Public Needs and the Donee Group jousted about the future directions of philanthropy, as indicated earlier. Among the several critiques of traditional philanthropy offered by members of the Donee Group, Mary Jean Tully, President of the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, presented a devastating critique of how traditional philanthropy largely ignored funding for women and girls, especially for programs that advanced their rights and opportunities. When the Donee Group became the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) in 1976, Tully was one of the five original co-chairs.

Womens Way organized in Philadelphia at the same time, as the first federation of women's organizations dealing with women and girls in poverty. Since women's organizations across the country were receiving very little money from United Ways and corporations, the Womens Way's sole purpose was to organize their member organizations collectively to conduct workplace fund raising and solicit corporate grants. These employee contributions and corporate grants would be shared among the member organizations. In 1977, Womens Way ran its first fund raising event.

Heeding Mary Jean Tully's wake-up call to philanthropy, Women in Foundations/ Corporate Philanthropy (WF/CP) was established in 1977 to promote recruitment and promotion of women in philanthropy, and to encourage grant making to women and girls. The organization later became Women & Philanthropy. Since its beginnings, this organization has been at the forefront of challenging philanthropy to provide more funding for women and girls, and to support their efforts to advance their rights and opportunities. It has been successful because it has engaged many of the leading women in foundations and corporate giving programs, while developing a strong base of membership of women (and some key men) at all levels in philanthropy.

By 1980, 11 Women's Funds existed.(155) During the early 1980s, Womens Way stimulated the establishment of three more federations of women's organizations in Seattle, New York City and Washington, DC. But during the same period, the examples of the Ms. Foundation and Astraea National Lesbian Action Foundation (1977) prompted the creation of 18 more women's foundations.(156) According to Rutgers University Professor Eleanor Brilliant,

The women's funding movement was created with a double heritage: On the one hand, there were funds that...emerged directly out of the broader women's movement...with a commitment to supporting...feminist purposes, such as the Ms. Foundation ...and Astraea [Foundation], a national lesbian funding organization...In addition, the organizations that developed had roots in the growing dissatisfaction expressed by women who at that time were working in existing and more mainstream philanthropic institutions...On the other hand, development of the [Women's] Funds was encouraged as part of a burgeoning Alternative Funds movement, defined that way because the funds were seen as alternatives to the United Way domination of fund-raising in the workplace and as incorporating social change goals.(157)

The first National Conference of Women's Funds was held in Washington, DC, in 1985, organized by representatives of the four women's federations, several women's foundations and the NCRP; 25 Women's Funds participated. The late Dana Alston, then director of the National Black United Fund, keynoted the conference. That year, 15 of the 25 Women's Funds reported raising $4.8 million for grants, allocations, operations, and endowment.(158)

The National Network of Women's Funds was founded at this national conference. WF/CP became the fiscal agent for the National Network, which quickly became the key infrastructure organization for assisting creation and development of new Women's Funds. The National Network of Women's Funds later changed its name to the Women's Funding Network (WFN). The most basic function of the WFN has been to help create new Women's Funds and develop existing funds "that empower women and girls." Its other core values -- which are reflected in the funds it has helped develop -- are "Diversity, inclusiveness, shared leadership...and commitment to social change..." ( According to Joanne Hayes, former executive director of WF/CP, while her organization never had any specific program to assist development of Women's Funds, nevertheless, many of the organization's individual members served on organizing committees for most of the early Women's Funds and provided much encouragement and support.(159)

Six key forces combined in the 1980s to create a climate for Women's Fund organizing, observes Capek.(160) First, the effect of "Reaganomics" on local women's and girls organizations became clear: there was less government money available. Second, the professional staff of organized philanthropy was feminized. Third, younger generations of wealthy families influenced by the 1960s and 1970s started to take control of their own money. Fourth, critiques of foundation and United Way funding of women and minorities escalated. Fifth, planning for the U.N.'s Decade for Women gained momentum and visibility. And sixth, most important, the growth and increasing powerful influence of the women's movement for equal rights and opportunities set the basic context. With WFN as ubiquitous provider of organizing and technical assistance, the number of Women's Funds grew to over 70 in the 1990s, the overwhelming majority locally based. But " 1997, WFN figures indicated that as many as 30 [additional Women's] Funds known to the network had started then foundered." (161)

Most of the 93 Women's Funds currently active are organized as grant-makers in the foundation style. However, in 2003 a distinct minority of 15 were actually private foundations (initiated by one or more major donors), while 55 were public charities, 20 were funds within community foundations and three were organized as federations focused on sharing employee contributions among member organizations.(162) "...with only a few notable exceptions, the Women's Funds never fully embraced the idea of workplace fund-raising or a federated structure, although the imprint of their beliefs in diversity and empowerment of women was compelling."(163) However, according to Carol Mollner, founding executive director of the National Network of Women's Funds/WFN, "most" Women's Funds organized as public charities, along with the three federations, "do raise money in the workplace, although that isn't their primary fund raising mechanism and they aren't structured as federations....The choice of foundation [status] (or fund in community foundation) over federation didn't have to do with lack of interest in workplace fund raising;" it had to do with other factors, especially their greater "familiarity with the foundation model." (164)

In 1998, according to the WFN, the Women's Funds themselves raised $45.1 million and granted $15.9 million. These numbers understate money raised and granted, however, as several Women's Funds did not provide data for the WFN's most recent survey.(165) What do they fund? For example, the Maine Women's Fund granted $10,000 to help low-income women on welfare start and maintain savings accounts. These savings can only be used for education, purchasing a home or business development. Public and private investors match the money on a dollar-to-dollar basis. Another example is from the Global Fund for Women, which made a grant of $13,400 to help support a reconstructed health clinic that is providing counseling, health care, education and support to women and girls survivors of the war in Kosovo. The Michigan Women's Foundation has provided grant support to the Girl Scouts to promote philanthropy that encourages "girls and giving." These are but three examples of extremely diverse giving for women and girls.

Nearly 10,000 individuals donated to Women's Funds in 1998. Gifts greater than $1000 accounted for 82% of all the individuals' dollars donated, but only 8% of the individual givers themselves. Gifts of $100 or less accounted for only 4% of the total amount, but 59% of all individual donors. Of the total dollars raised in 1998, 53% was from individuals, 27% foundations, 17% corporations, 3% bequests and planned giving, and 1% other sources.(166)

Brilliant reports that "The movement is...marked by a great range in the assets of its members. At one end of the scale, the Ms. Foundation has a $20 million endowment; close behind is the Minnesota Women's Fund, which in the late 1990s reached an endowment of about half that amount; at the other end are funds with no endowments." (167) WFN projects asset goals of $250 million by 2004, and $450 million by 2008 ( According to Mollner, "Women's Funds are not about the charitable model with the wealthy giving to the poor. We emphasize more of a self-help approach with everyone giving what they can. We want people at all class levels to give what they can." (168) Scholar Mary Ellen Capek's research agrees, finding that "Virtually unanimously, Women's Funds are committed to democratizing both fund raising and decision-making about fund disbursements." According to another researcher, Kathleen Kelly, partnering with both donors and grantees is something that women's organizations have learned to do well. The Women's Funds, Capek adds, "excel (in) their outreach to different kinds of donors. Different, that is, from traditional philanthropy...Many feel the funds have done an excellent job of empowering women with more limited means as donors: 'Women's Funds have broken all the rules, aiming to treat all donors equally.'" (169)

The Women's Funding Network remains the driving force in helping create new Women's Funds and develop existing funds. The network had 93 Women's Funds as members in 2003. However, WFN also has other institutions and individuals as members, thus, describes itself as "a growing association of public and private foundations, federations, funds in community foundations, individual donors and supporting institutions" ( WFN's own budget in 2001 was nearly $2 million, funding a staff of nine women, consultants, office and travel expenses.(170)

Brilliant observes that WFN has faced real dilemmas for resource allocation between "giving priority to systematic data collection," providing the vital organizing and technical assistance to help "vulnerable" new Women's Funds or "serving as a clearinghouse [and] meeting ongoing needs of larger, more sophisticated member organizations." (171)

Capek assesses that Women's Funds have sensitized other foundations and funding sources to women's issues and questions of diversity. Women's Funds provide a training ground for grant-makers who move from Women's Funds to mainstream foundations, educating and politicizing them to a heightened awareness of gender issues. "They put issues on the map" Capek reports, " their communities, and they've helped larger foundations to think more strategically about women...Women's Funds' boards, especially, are seen as training grounds for both diversity and empowerment." (172)

With Chris Grumm as the new Executive Director, WFN is now located in San Francisco, after 15 years in St. Paul, MN.

  8.  Alternative Community Foundations:

The Funding Exchange Foundations

Also in 1972, as the Ms. Foundation was created as the first foundation committed to making all its grants for women and girls, the Vanguard Public Foundation was established in San Francisco, by 1960s-conditioned, young, inheritors of wealth, to fund grassroots organizations seeking social justice, giving impetus to the alternative community foundations movement. Says Vanguard co-founder Obie Benz:

When I was 21, graduating from college, and dedicated to social justice, I suddenly inherited money from my grandfather. My first thought was, 'This is great!' My second thought was, 'This is strange -- because now I'm morally obligated to do the right thing and I don't have a clue how to go about it.' I wanted to make the best use of the money, and the only way I could learn how was by doing it myself. What resulted was a group of six people who were willing to give time as well as money.(173)

Two years after Vanguard was established, Haymarket Peoples Fund was set up in Boston. According to George Pillsbury, heir to the Pillsbury flour fortune and co-founder of Haymarket, "In the 1970s we were very anti-money, and really didn't want anything to do with it." (174) Nevertheless, he and "six or seven other young people with inherited wealth who wanted to give money for social change" created Haymarket Peoples Fund. "By the end of the first year, 15 people had given a total of nearly $60,000, and over $40,000 was made in grants to 39 organizations." (175)

In 1977, Robin Hood Was Right was written and published by the Vanguard Public Foundation.(176) It was "a collection of anonymous anecdotes documenting the alienation that resulted when a childhood of wealth collided with the idealistic, egalitarian world view of 1970s activism....[But] without available progressive philanthropic institutions, their philanthropy was often isolated and impulsive." (177) Robin Hood Was Right became a manifesto for rich young kids to use their wealth for social justice rather than for luxurious living. These young activists-would-be-donors "realized that the available models of philanthropy reinforced existing power dynamics. Private foundations kept control of the money squarely in the hands of the wealthy endowers, and community foundation boards were hardly represented of [the] counterculture constituencies" from whence the activists came. "These [young] activists of wealth strove to create a new model of philanthropy, one that would take the power, as well as the money, out of donors' hands and put it into the pockets of activist organizations." (178) This is exactly what Vanguard Foundation and Haymarket Peoples Fund sought to do, as well as the four additional alternative community foundations that were created in their wake during the 1970s.

In 1979, the six foundations created the Funding Exchange (FEX), which would become the infrastructure organization to promote the concept, help organize another nine similar foundations, and help continue the development of all 15 foundations. June Makela, the FEX's Executive Director from 1980-91, believed "the Funding Exchange's role was to 'organize' progressive philanthropy -- to connect wealthy individuals with progressive values to the important, but often invisible, work going on in their own communities and around the country." (179) Another FEX staff person said, "This [funding] movement is about organizing people to fund the [progressive political] movement. If donors are not included, they may not remain part of the movement." (180) The FEX network today is based on a trenchant statement about the condition of America: "Of all the causes of social problems in the USA, from environmental damage to hate crimes, the most fundamental is the increasing disparity of wealth and power. A history of exploiting human and natural resources, along with undue influence of wealth on our political system, perpetuates and strengthens a destructive dynamic within our country, and between the USA and the rest of the world. We believe these conditions must be fundamentally changed..." ( Recently, Makela writes, "As the [progressive] movement struggles to rebuild after so many right-wing assaults, small grants to support creative new organizing strategies, meetings and marches will be as important as ever." (181)

Typical of the grassroots grants made by FEX foundations are those to Workers Awaaz, a New York City group that organizes South Asian domestic workers, and to Southerners on New Ground (SONG), a Kentucky group that develops models for organizing people across lines of sex, race, class and sexual orientation. FEX Executive Director Ellen Gurzinsky writes that the FEX alternative community foundations "are at the forefront of virtually every contemporary movement for social change. They provide essential resources for both urban and rural organizing. They fund the arts and culture as organizing tools. They directly support efforts to stave off the erosion of hard-won gains in affirmative action [for minorities] and immigration policies. And they respond to emergency issues as well as contribute to the long-term infrastructure needs of their grassroots grantees." (182)

The FEX national office has established special funds to solicit for and grant money to "organizations often considered too controversial, too political, or too experimental" for mainstream philanthropy.(183) One fund is the OUT Fund for Lesbian and Gay Liberation, another fund supports organizing of communities of color, a third fund supports overseas communities healing the wounds of repression and violence, and a fourth is the Paul Robeson Fund for Independent Media. As Gail Silva, Director, Film Arts Foundation in San Francisco, writes, "Progressive communities must have strong, activist media to combat the well-funded conservative blitz of mailings, television and broadcasts." (184)

In 1999, the 15 Funding Exchange foundations made grants totaling $9.5 million, and the FEX national office granted another $3 million. Vanguard Public Foundation made the largest amount of grant money available ($2.9 million), followed by North Star Fund in New York City ($2.0 million), Liberty Hill Foundation in Los Angeles ($1.5 million) and Haymarket Peoples Fund ($1.2 million). The other 11 alternative community foundations averaged $178,000 in 1999 grants. (185) In 2000, the FEX local foundations and national office increased their total grants by $2.5 million, making over $15 million available to grantees.(186) Most revenues received are from individual donors, either as checks or gifts of securities. Some revenues are provided through corporate employee matching gift programs (such as through GTE, Microsoft, Aetna); also, some by bequests, gifts of real estate or other real property and life insurance policies. Donor advised funds play a big part in revenue raising for many FEX foundations and the national office.

"At the heart of the FEX model is the community funding board, which is a grants allocation committee comprised largely or totally of community activists that represent the diversity of its community." The donors realize that community activists have closer relationships with grassroots constituencies, and that this enables them to make grants to community organizations often ignored by traditional philanthropy. Also, "relinquishing power and money to community activists" is seen as "liberating for the funding donors..." (187) However, "All of the funds in the FEX network offer ways for donors to be involved, and some allow donors to be involved in the decision making." (188) For example, donors may help with fund raising and organizing conferences aimed at recruiting new donors. "A new donor survey [in 1999] reveals that the guiding vision of sharing financial resources and decision-making power continues to motivate our supporters as strongly now as it did back in 1979...But to expand -- more donors are needed. So a new version of Robin Hood Was Right was produced in 2000,(189) with "a conscious effort to broaden the book's audience to include persons with varying levels of political sophistication and those who may be new to the issue of social change..." (190) The essence of FEX foundations has been stated succinctly by scholar Susan Ostrander in her case study of the Haymarket Peoples Fund: " away money for social change requires doing philanthropy so that it is itself part of that change. This requires altering the typical social relations of power in philanthropy itself -- relations between donors, grantmakers, grantees and staff." (191)

Just as with Women's Funds, the Funding Exchange network has also had an impact on traditional philanthropy. According to Andy Robinson, author of Grassroots Grants: An Activist's Guide to Proposal Writing, "What seemed at the time a radical idea -- activists giving out grants -- has since become almost commonplace as more and more mainstream foundations hire organizers and hell-raisers as program officers. The face of philanthropy is changing -- slowly, but irrevocably..." (192)

Tides Foundation/Tides Center and Others

Another alternative community foundation is the Tides Foundation in San Francisco. In 1998, Tides Foundation granted $20 million for social change ( But grants increased dramatically in just two years. Drummond Pike, long-time director of Tides Foundation, reports that the Foundation made $50 million in grants 2000, more than three times the amount of the whole FEX network. Tides Foundation operates much like traditional community foundation, but it can be classified an alternative because it too grew out of frustration with established philanthropy's overwhelming neglect of progressive issues. Moreover, it was conceived as a nationally-oriented community foundation in 1976, organized to be a "community of progressive values," when all other community foundations defined their communities as localities.

The Tides Foundation set itself up to be a service to progressive donors and has certainly succeeded. The grant money of the Foundation comes from 300-400 donor advised funds, donor collaboratives, regranting programs and some small private foundations. Most of its $50 million in annual grants are from pass-through money, but the Foundation holds $140 million in assets. However, only $1 million of these assets can be used to make grants to whoever the Foundation staff want. Routinely, the Foundation either grants the money to the grantees identified by the donors, or the staff advises the donors about what grantees would be appropriate choices, given the donors' interests. The Tides Foundation provides administrative and financial management services for its donors.

The other aspect of the Tides Foundation that classifies it as an alternative community foundation is its tremendous commitment to be an incubator for new and/or small progressive nonprofit organizations. To accomplish this, the Foundation set up the Tides Center. The Center incubates new and/or small organizations -- many without their IRS 501c3 tax exempt status, therefore ineligible for tax deductible contributions-- by providing seed money, top flight administrative and financial management systems, including payroll and payroll tax systems, employee benefit packages and credit cards. Equally important, the Tides Center is the critical 501c3 agent that can legally receive and pass through to its clientele nonprofit organizations both tax deductible contributions from individuals and grants from tax favored foundations. Tides Center has to accept expenditure responsibility for these pass-through monies, but that is easily accomplished through the administrative and financial management systems that it has in place. Pike reports that Tides Center spawned over 100 independent nonprofit organizations during the 1990s. The Center eventually became a separate, independent entity from the Tides Foundation and made $50 million in grants available for its clientele of 375 independent nonprofits in the year 2000. This $50 million is in addition to the $50 million in grants made available by the Tides Foundation.(193)

Other alternative community foundations also exist in the USA outside the FEX network. Pablo Eisenberg, former executive director of the Center for Community Change, identifies the Appalachian Community Foundation, New Mexico Community Foundation and the East Ohio Community Foundations as three grantmakers that may be organized in the same way as traditional community foundations, but have a focus on issues of poverty, race and ethnicity which distinguish them from the pack.

  9.  Native American Grant-makers

Native American grant-makers, that is, those with American Indians as half or more of the board, grew from three in 1973 to 32 in 1994. They are greater in number than any other racial/ethnic identity-based alternative. The grant-makers include 22 Native foundations and 10 funds in non-foundation organizations. They granted $3.5 million in 1994 for Native causes and scholarships. The American Indian College Fund also gave $5 million to the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (which is strictly for scholarships, thus, is not included in Table 1).(194)

The growth in Native grant-makers has occurred because Native leaders see an interrelationship between the loss of Native culture and the great poverty among Indian people, and they "believe that the solutions are to be found in Native traditions, though often in combination with Western tools and concepts. For these grant-makers, Native people themselves must become involved in implementing the solutions needed to create lasting, functioning societies." (195)

Most Native foundations and funds "do not have endowments and every year must raise the money" for their grants. However, "much of the funds used by these foundations and (funds) come from other foundations and many Native organizations serve mainly as conduits for foundation funds." (196)

  10.  The Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transsexual Foundations

In 1998, the Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transsexual (LGBT) foundations awarded $1.6 million in grants.(197) They number 16; fourteen are local or state based, two are national. Three years later, in 2001, they raised $9.8 million and distributed $5.0 million, a threefold increase, "to organizations and programs that have the least access to philanthropic support." The 16 foundations have generated endowments totaling $8.3 million (

LGBT community foundations provide resources to populations historically ignored or underserved by traditional philanthropy and utilize philanthropy as a tool for social activism and social change. They are critical participants in the national lesbian and gay philanthropic movement. The oldest foundation is Horizons, founded in 1979 in San Francisco; the newest is Phoenix Equality Foundation in Peoria, IL.

These institutions support new and emerging groups, build capacity of existing LGBT organizations both through direct grants and technical assistance, and encourage, promote and educate LGBT people on how to become responsible and effective philanthropists. Grants support a range of programs on civil rights, advocacy, health, education, HIV/AIDS, human services, recreation, arts and culture and capacity building for grassroots, people of color and youth organizations.

  11.  Environmental Federations

In 1962, Rachael Carson's Silent Spring was published, and it became the clarion call for the modern-day environmental movement. It examined "the way dangerous chemicals [had] been used without sufficient research or regard for their potential to harm wildlife, water, soil, and humans, creating a sinister chain of poisoning and death." (198) It offered "the first shattering look at widespread ecological degradation and touched off an environmental awareness that still exists" ( and has continued to grow. Great successes in legislation and public consciousness were achieved by the environmental movement during the next 20 years.

But after President Ronald Reagan took office in 1981, his Administration did much to roll back the environmental, occupational safety and health protection legislation and regulations passed in those two decades. Thus, environmental organizations had to greatly expand their overall fund raising and operations to counter these regressive Federal government policies. Mainly they did this through direct mail, major donor solicitation and foundation fund raising. But key environmental groups also wanted a piece of the workplace fund raising pie.

Returning to the 1981 national conference organized by NCRP in Washington, DC, one of the participants was Earl Blauner, from the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, based in San Francisco. Blauner returned to California and, in 1982, with colleagues from other environmental groups, established the first Environmental Federation (the Environmental Federation of California -- EFC). At first EFC sought to establish a productive working relationship with the San Francisco United Way. It lasted a year. Once the EFC showed it could draw substantial charitable contributions, the United Way unilaterally changed the rules by which EFC could solicit and receive payroll deduction contributions. EFC struck out on its own, and independently became a success. EFC later became Earth Share of California, which raised $2.1 million in employee contributions in 1999, leading all state and regional environmental federations. After EFC, three additional state Environmental Federations (EFs) organized and began soliciting workplace contributions in Oregon, Washington state and Minnesota. NCRP helped to give birth to these new EFs, as it did with the EFC.

In 1988, the next year after the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) legislation passed, the Environmental Federation of America (EFA), a national environmental federation, was organized to take advantage of it. Blauner, along with Sharon Benjamin of Friends of the Earth, Melissa Hippler of National Audubon Society and Hilary Dick of National Parks and Conservation Association, developed the successful plan to organize EFA and certify it for participation in the 1989 CFC campaign. EFA later became Earth Share, under Kal Stein's direction.

In 1990, a new infrastructure organization was created which would greatly expand the Environmental Federation movement. The Environmental Support Center (ESC) was established to strengthen state and local grassroots environmental organizations, and a primary program was to organize and sustain additional Environmental Federations that would participate in workplace fund raising. ESC connected with existing state environmental councils (coalitions of local and state-based environmental advocacy organizations that focus on state policy) to carry out this program. ESC gained easy access to the state environmental councils because its founder, Jim Abernathy, was an enviro himself. But over time, ESC's other primary programs increased ESC's credibility in the grassroots environmental movement, thus making easier ESC's task of helping organize and sustain new Environmental Federations. These other programs aided grassroots environmental organizations in a number of ways: support for the national network of 50-60 state environmental councils, provision of subsidies for training and organizational assistance of the grassroots groups, a loan fund to help increase their funding base, computer network training and donations of computer equipment, software and faxes (

Because of ESC's direct technical assistance to environmental groups who wanted to organize new Environmental Federations, the number of state and regional EFs involved in workplace fund raising grew from 4 to 19 during the next several years. The number of member groups in each Environmental Federation ranges from 15-45, with 24 being the average number of member groups in the state and regional federations, and 45 being the number of Earth Share members. In 1997, the Environmental Federations raised $14 million total by workplace fund raising. The 19 state and regional federations raised $5.6 million of this amount. Earth Share raised $8.4 million.(199) Of Earth Share's $8.4 million, around 80% was distributed to its member organizations ($6.7 million).(200)

However, state and regional Environmental Federations also raised other revenues from corporations, foundations and individuals, estimated by the author at $1.4 million, making total state and regional federation revenues of $7.0 million. Thus, these federations averaged $368,000 in total annual revenues. Like Social Action Funds, about 25% of the state environmental federations' revenues are for fund raising and administration ($1.8 million), with about 75% distributed to their member organizations ($5.2 million).(201) According to the ESC, the 19 state and regional federations "raised over $44 million in new dollars on behalf of more than 450 state and local environmental groups from 1991 to 1999" ( This translates into an average of nearly $100,000 per individual EF member group.

Most of the money from workplace fund raising (around 68%) came from government employees (federal, state and local) in 1996, nearly the same as for Social Action Funds. Other sources of workplace fund raising revenues were employees in business (26% -- much higher than for Social Action Funds), colleges, universities, nonprofit organizations and employee/donors giving specifically to Social Action Fund members through United Way donor choice programs.(202)

As with Social Action Funds, Environmental Federations succeeded, first, in gaining access to government employee charity campaigns (federal, state and local government); second, nonprofit organizations, colleges and universities; finally, corporate employee charity campaigns. Environmental federations now run campaigns in most state governments, hundreds of local governments and major corporations such as the following:

Adobe Systems
American Airlines
Kaiser Permanente
Mattel Toys
Mazda Motors of America
Netscape Communications
New York Times Co.
Pitney Bowes
Rand Corporation
Samsung Austin Semiconductor
Starbucks Coffee Co.
Tandem Computer

USA Today (Earth Share website) Environmental Federations have had much more success in getting into corporate charity drives than Social Action Funds have. This has been the case because of three factors. First, Earth Share as a national organization has led the way in opening up access for Environmental Federations, whereas there is no comparable national Social Action Fund. Second, middle class America has embraced the environmental movement to a much larger degree than it has supported the progressive social action movement. Third, the Environmental Federations have a more clearly defined image concerning what they are about than do the Social Action Funds, which embrace very diverse causes from day care and women's rights to immigrants' rights and community development.

Recently, Earth Share and the state and regional Environmental Federations combined forces in seeking access to new workplaces and jointly campaigning for contributions. This has been done in order to develop a much stronger "brand name" to elicit greater contributions for environmental organizations (the way fusion of diverse federated groups under the United Way label had done so in the early 1970s), also to eliminate costly competition among national and state Environmental Federations and the confusion this caused in the workplace charity campaigns in which they participated.

  12.  Hispanic Funds and Asian Pacific American Funds

Hispanic funds and Asian Pacific American funds are the newest identity-based alternatives. There are six Hispanic funds and three Asian Pacific American funds. They granted $0.9 million and $285,000, respectively, in 1997.(203)

Three of the Hispanic funds primarily operate within the workplace fund raising arena (two - in San Francisco and New York City -- tied to United Ways, and one - in Los Angeles - independent). The other three -- in Kansas City, St. Paul and Lorain, OH -- are field of interest funds located within community foundations. They were all created because it was felt that traditional "philanthropy has largely ignored Latinos" and, as Henry Ramos and Gabriel Kasper explain, there was "a relative dearth of institutional vehicles through which to capture and leverage available community giving resources in ways that are culturally acceptable." (204) The late William A. Diaz, former Ford Foundation executive, subsequently University of Minnesota scholar, said, "The development of the Latino community funds may be the culmination of all the efforts to involve Latinos in philanthropy...[They] appear to be attracting new contributors and money to the field. [Moreover,] The support provided by these funds tends to be delivered with greater flexibility and responsiveness to grassroots community groups than traditional funders are able to provide...Equally important, the Latino community funds have evolved to support the needs of the Latino community which studies have shown are not being met by mainstream philanthropic institutions." (205)

The three Asian Pacific American funds are quite similar to the three Hispanic funds connected to workplace fund raising, in that two - in San Francisco and New York City -- are closely tied with United Ways, and the third - in Los Angeles -- is independently active in raising workplace donations. They too were created with thoughts similar to those of the founders of the Hispanic funds. The Asian Pacific funds' agendas include hoping "to foster relationships with wealthy Asian donors (and)... to alert mainstream foundations to the needs of the Asian community." (206)

Summary and Conclusions:  Progressive Foundations and Alternative Funding Institutions

In the USA, the momentous 1960s stimulated aggressive and successful social movements, concerning racial/ethnic peoples, women, gays and lesbians and the environment, which have grown in breadth and impact during the intervening years. These movements, in turn, produced important new progressive foundations and new alternative private funding institutions to provide money for the nonprofit organizations in the movements. The new alternative funding institutions were religious funders, Black United Funds, social action funds, Women's Funds, alternative community foundations, Native American foundations/funds, lesbian/gay/bisexual/ transsexual foundations, environmental federations, Hispanic funds and Asian Pacific American community funds. In some cases, this new money augmented the limited funds from government and traditional philanthropy. In many more cases, the new foundations and funding institutions gave grants to new and controversial organizations that would have received little if anything from government or mainline philanthropy.

Researching the alternatives has not been easy. The author collected data on alternative workplace funds for 18 years, but despite his knowledge of the field and personal access to the fund leaders, it became increasingly more difficult to obtain data from the funds as they grew in number and independence. Moreover, the task was more complicated because they are essentially grassroots organizations. Fortunately, national organizations collected data on Black United Funds, Women's Funds, Native American foundations/funds, Funding Exchange foundations and LGBT funds. And researchers Henry Ramos, Gabriel Kasper and Michael May collected other essential data. But even then these data are not normally published for public review. Only the data on alternative workplace funds, Women's Funds and Native American foundations/funds were readily available in public documents (and then the Native American data were only for 1994).

The primary common grounding of these new alternative funding institutions, as well as of the new progressive foundations, was to devote themselves to the less fortunate, the marginalized, the discriminated, the oppressed in American society, who have the least access to the levers of money and political power. This common focus on the economically and politically weak became more and more necessary as the USA began to fall under the spell of the conservative political movement. The conservative movement actually began before few of the funding institutions discussed here were established, after Barry Goldwater's defeat in the 1964 Presidential election. But it didn't pick up real muscle until the 1980s, after Ronald Reagan took office as President. And it continued to grow in influence politically and with the media even after Reagan left office in 1989, eventually electing a conservative Congress in 1994 and President in 2000. The development of the conservative movement was strongly supported by a number of conservative foundations. They established an infrastructure of nonprofit organizations in academia, the media, the law, philanthropy and religion which became counters to the presumed "liberal rot" of mainline institutions in these areas, but most important, they created conservative think tanks to develop new lines of conservative thought and policy which would play well with middle America. All the new progressive foundations and alternative funding institutions discussed herein increasingly faced government and private policies that tended to favor the wealthy over the economically and politically weak. The new funding institutions had an uphill battle just to establish themselves, but an even tougher battle to grow in the face of this increasingly hostile conservative policy environment.

Another common grounding was that the new funding institutions were all created as independent private nonprofit institutions. However, some of the funding institutions (Black United Funds, Social Action Funds and Environmental Federations) sought to work creatively with government, not to be estranged from it. While others (progressive foundations, religious funders, Women's Funds and alternative community foundations) generally developed quite separately and independently from direct governmental assistance.

Social action, Black activist and environmental nonprofit organizations lobbied tenaciously and successfully for new law to open up workplace fund raising in the Federal government's Combined Federal Campaign, so that they and other nontraditional and advocacy nonprofit organizations could receive employee charitable contributions. Social Action Funds, Black United Funds and Environmental Federations subsequently lobbied successfully to open up state and local government workplace fund raising campaigns. These government charity campaigns became the financial base of SAFs, BUFs and EFs, giving them the financial solvency to seek access to college, university, nonprofit and corporate charity drives.

Nevertheless, all the new progressive foundations and alternative private funding institutions took full advantage of indirect governmental help. In the USA, the income of nonprofit organizations engaged in charitable, educational and research activities is exempt from taxes. Also, individuals and corporations are allowed tax deductions for contributions to these organizations, whether in cash or real property. Both these long standing tax laws were of immense importance to the creation and growth of the new progressive foundations and alternative private funding institutions discussed in this chapter.

Another common grounding of the new alternative funding institutions is the critical importance of intermediary organizations in expanding the concept from a prototype entity to a national network of such institutions. This was not done McDonalds franchise style, where every hamburger has to weigh an exact amount and contain a certain percentage of fat. The expansion was accomplished by the intermediaries making the nation aware that the prototype did indeed exist; promoting the basic concept of it; providing information about how the prototype worked; helping organize replications (though not exact ones); providing technical assistance to implement replications; holding conferences to share inspiration and information; conducting research and disseminating publications to inform the developing networks, the media and the larger world; selling the concept to the mainstream funding world; and lobbying Congress and the White House as necessary.

The National Black United Fund has been instrumental in helping create and develop local BUFs. The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) and later the National Alliance for Choice in Giving (NACG) have been the primary intermediaries for Social Action Funds. NCRP, NACG and especially the Environmental Support Center have been key intermediaries for Environmental Federations. The Women's Funding Network and, to a much lesser extent, Women & Philanthropy, have been essential for Women's Funds. The Funding Exchange has been the main intermediary for alternative community foundations. Native Americans in Philanthropy and Hispanics in Philanthropy have been crucial in encouraging creation and development of Native American foundations/funds and Hispanic funds. Without these intermediaries it is doubtful that the prototype alternative private funding institutions would have developed into the important funding networks they have become. On the other hand, there was no such intermediary to stimulate development of progressive foundations and religious funders, at least, not until the National Network of Grantmakers, founded in 1978, developed much later into a cohesive network.

The entrepreneurial leadership of all the new alternative private funding institutions is another common grounding. While the grants and loans of mainline foundations and corporations certainly were helpful for creation and development of some BUFs, SAFs, EFs, Women's Funds, Native American foundations/funds, Hispanic funds and their intermediaries, nevertheless, the entrepreneurial leaders of these funding institutions successfully sought out other, ultimately much more important sources of funds to put their institutions on the map: payroll deduction contributions, donations from young heirs to great fortunes, gifts from individual women at all income levels, annual church collections for an anti-poverty fund, and more. And since the funds they sought had rarely before been made available to such new and innovative organizations -- whether by government, foundations, corporations or individuals -- they had to be especially creative, entrepreneurial and persevering in soliciting the money.

The new progressive foundations and alternative private funding institutions have become important new sources of support for progressive organizations. They fund more cutting edge social movement activities than do mainline liberal foundations. They operate closer to the grassroots than do the big liberal foundations. They extend the reach of the liberal foundations in social movement funding because the latter are too hidebound to make small or really controversial grants, or to fund grassroots and small organizations. And the alternatives are usually more democratic in their decision-making procedures.

On the other hand, progressive foundations are few and far between and alternative funding institutions are limited in their funding. They often fund the grassroots, but this usually does not add up to impact on national policy. They often fund identity politics, which usually do not help build voting coalitions with the crucial swing voters of the middle class. They often make project grants, rather than general support grants, locking organizations into policy silos. They rarely commit for the long term, even though they sometimes fund the same organizations for many years. They rarely explicitly support network building, though they sometimes support coalitions for specific purposes. Little of their funding goes for overall progressive movement building.

Pros and cons notwithstanding, progressive foundations and alternative funding institutions are very important in funding social change and social movements. Progressive foundations make substantial grants for social change relative to those made by liberal mainstream foundations, but the best estimate is that they are some part of the $265 million in social change grants that the NNG tallied for private and community foundations in 1997.(207) The new alternative funding institutions and religious funders, meanwhile, are known to have granted or allocated $106 million for social change circa 1998, and this number is estimated at more than $190 million for 2000. As has been reported earlier in this chapter, it appears as if the alternative funding institutions and religious funders became more significant within overall philanthropy in funding in funding social movements and social change from 1990 to 1997.

The alternative community foundations, including the 16 in the Funding Exchange network and the Tides Foundation granted $33 million for progressive nonprofit organizations in 1998, and, along with the Tides Center, granted or regranted $115 million in 2000. The Funding Exchange foundations awarded around $15 million, raised mostly from individual donors, the money going in very small grants ($500-5000) to some of the most controversial social action, human rights and environmental activities in America. The Tides Foundation granted $50 million and Tides Center regranted another $50 million, including money for 375 new and/or small nonprofit groups in the initial stages of development. Yet 30 years ago, only one Funding Exchange foundation was in existence and neither Tides institution existed.

Thirteen religious funders which target low income community-based organizations and community organizing are a major part of the alternatives that fund social change. They granted $26.3 million in 1998, thereby providing almost one-third of all religion's total contributions to social change. Yet the church fund making more than half of the grants was not established until 1970.

The 44 Social Action Funds and 20 Environmental Federations raised $24 million in total revenues in 1997, mostly from workplace fund raising, and distributed around 80% of this amount to their more than 1500 member organizations, which are engaged in every type of social action and environmental activity imaginable. Yet 30 years ago, only two SAFs and no EFs existed.

Over 70 Women's Funds raised $45 million in 1998, mostly from individual donors, and granted $16 million for women's and girls' activities from social action to social services and recreation. Now there are 93 Women's Funds. Yet 30 years ago, only three Women's Funds existed (as scholarship funds) and only one women's fund existed that embodied the hopes and dreams of the modern day women's movement.

The 23 Black United Funds (BUFs) raised more than $7.5 million in 1998, mostly from workplace fund raising, and distributed about 61% to several hundred grantees, which are active in every aspect of Black social and economic development. Yet 30 years ago, only one BUF existed.

The 32 Native American grant-makers active in 1994 granted $3.5 million for Native causes and scholarships, and the American Indian Higher Education Consortium made available another $5 million for scholarships. Only three of these institutions existed 30 years ago.

The 16 Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transsexual foundations granted $1.6 million in 1998, but tripled their grantmaking to $5 million by 2001. The six Hispanic funds and the three Asian Pacific American funds granted $1.2 million in1997. None of these funds existed 30 years ago.

These new progressive foundations and alternative funding institutions are serious contributors to social justice and environmental protection in the USA. The grants and allocations of progressive foundations, religious funders, Black United Funds, Social Action Funds, Environmental Federations, Women's Funds, alternative community foundations, Native American grant-makers, Hispanic funds and Asian Pacific American funds are substantial. These new progressive funding institutions' contributions, totaling $106 million circa 1998, may be more than one-quarter of all progressive social change grants in the USA.(208)

Interestingly, as the alternatives became known to the foundation world, foundation funding of progressive social change increased as a proportion of total foundation grants. Both Jenkins and Halcli and NNG document the increase. Has this growth occurred over time because of the development of elite support of the momentous social changes from the 1960s? Has the elite that makes foundation decisions been replaced by people whose progressive social conscience was forged in the 1960s? Or has the growth of foundation giving to progressive social change been a direct function of the stimulative influence of the alternative giving institutions? Undoubtedly, the answer is "yes" to all three questions. But which influence has been greater or lesser is for further research.

Have the alternative funding institutions affected progressive policy making? Have they arrested somewhat the decline in progressive policy making from 1981 to the current time? Have they stopped the conservative policy juggernaut anywhere? Yes, of course, they have funded important and sometimes successful defensive seawalls against the conservative tide. But overall, the conclusion must be that they have not been a great factor in arresting the decline of progressive policy. They have principally focused their grantmaking and allocations on the grassroots or other local activities, mostly on limited scale projects, identity politics or narrow fields of interests, rarely on bridging the gaps between the many policy silos.

What about the impact of the alternative funding institutions on social change more generally? As most of the alternatives are local or state based, and many are grassroots organizations, the impact of their funding is dissipated across hundreds of geographic boundaries and dozens of social movements. They have supported organizations involved in every progressive social movement of the day, from prisoners' and immigrants' rights to anti-globalization to environmental justice and toxic waste disposal. Researchers looking at the origins, growth, development and impact of diverse social movements should make sure to examine the role of the alternative funding institutions as well as of mainline foundations and other philanthropy. There is no doubt that the alternatives' contributions will stand up as helpful, even as important. But more than that additional research will have to determine.

Can Philanthropy be Reformed to Provide More Money for Social Change?

After a quarter century of trying to change philanthropy to be more responsive to social change, as director of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, I see limited possibilities in changing mainstream philanthropy. Generally, philanthropy responds to what is happening in the society and the body politic. Thus, as conservatives have increased their sway over both, philanthropy has spent more and more money on issues conservatives have made important. Consider President Ronald Reagan's big tax cut and domestic spending cuts of the early 1980s. Foundations provided little support to nonprofits in opposition when these issues were being considered in Congress. After enactment, foundations, United Ways and all the rest of philanthropy worked overtime trying to make up the deficits in program spending and nonprofit revenues, then spent lots to study and evaluate the results. Or take welfare reform in the 1990s (no "workee," no money). Foundations mounted little in the way of opposition when it was being considered in Congress. After it was enacted, foundations and the rest of philanthropy spent huge amounts of money helping to implement, study and evaluate it. In both these cases, this was responding, or following, not leading.

However, I see excellent possibilities in reforming philanthropy through creation of new progressive foundations and alternative funding institutions. New vision, new energy, new organizations and new decision-makers can move more quickly to support emerging social movements and promising new directions and activities in existing movements. Yes, of course, raising new money to do this is uncertain, difficult and time consuming. But compared to convincing hidebound, sometimes strait-jacketed philanthropists to make very different funding decisions, controversial ones that may jeopardize their salaries, privileges, statuses and worldviews, raising the new money is easy. Moreover, once the new institutions are on the ground, up and running, they become beacons for others to follow. Such were the case of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development for religious funders, the Brotherhood Crusade in Los Angeles for Black United Funds, the Ms. Foundation for Women's Funds, the Vanguard Foundation and Haymarket Peoples Fund for alternative community foundations, the Cooperating Fund Drive for Social Action Funds and the Environmental Federation of California for Environmental Federations.

The evidence already points to an increase in overall foundation funding of social change over the period that the new progressive foundations and alternative funding institutions have originated and grown significantly. Of course, it could be said that this increase is marginal, only a few percentage points, from 0% to 2.4 % of all foundation giving. But that ignores its importance. For instance, prior to the ugly financial scandal that hit United Way of America in 1992, United Ways were considered the biggest of the big charities in the nation. But even then they were raising less than 3% of all private giving in the U.S.

Of greater importance, however, to increasing foundation and other philanthropy for social change is the growth of social movements themselves. Philanthropy does respond to what happens in the civic, social and political world. As Emmett Carson observes, " is only when culture-specific groups pursue their social justice agendas long enough and publicly enough to have them become acceptable to the broader public that foundations appear to become willing to support their activities." (209) The larger and more successful social movements are, the more adherents they win from the citizenry, the more favorably the media report their goals, activities and results, the more the state and national policymakers heed their wishes, the more philanthropy will respond. The civil rights movement, women's, anti-Vietnam war, environmental and gay/lesbian movements all found this to be true in the 1960s and 1970s. But the conservative movement overtook them in the 1980s and 1990s. Will progressives learn from the conservatives and from their own foibles, especially their policy silo entrapment, to enable them to win over society and the body politic again in the new millennium? Hard to say.


1. Senator Paul D. Wellstone, Letter, Fall 2001.

2. David Callahan, $1 Billion for Ideas: Conservative Think Tanks in the 1990s. Washington, DC: National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, 1999, p.37.

3. Pablo Eisenberg, "The Nonprofit Sector in a Changing World," NVSQ, Vol. 29, Issue 2, June 2000.

4. Stephen Hart, Cultural Dilemmas of Progressive Politics, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2001, p.1.

5. Ibid., p. 19.

6. Ibid., p. 4.

7. Bill Moyers, "This Isn't the Speech I Expected to Give Today..." Keynote Address to the Environmental Grantmakers Association, Brainerd, MN, Oct. 16, 2001,

8. Heritage Foundation, Nov. 12, 2001,

9. Jerome L. Himmelstein, To the Right: The Transformation of American Conservatism, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1990, p. 199.

10. David C. Hammack, "Introduction: Growth, Transformation, and Quiet Revolution in the Nonprofit Sector over Two Centuries," NVSQ, Vol. 30, Issue 2, June 2001.

11. John D. McCarthy and Jim Castelli, Working for Justice: The Campaign for Human Development and Poor Empowerment Groups,Washington, DC: Life Cycle Institute of Catholic University of America,1994, p. 1.

12. David M. Ricci, The Transformation of American Politics, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1993.

13. Jeffrey M. Berry, The New Liberalism: The Rising Power of Citizen Groups, Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press,1999, p.159.

14. Ibid., p.2.

15. Ibid., p. 91.

16. Ibid., p. 93.

17. Ibid., p. 158.

18. Ibid., p. 159.

19. Ibid.

20. Ibid., p. 110.

21. Ibid., p. 56.

22. Ibid., p. 57.

23. Ibid., p. 169.

24. Ibid., p. 114.

25. Ibid., p. 59.

26. Ibid., p. 159.

27. Ibid., p. 1.

28. Ibid.

29. Ibid., p. 14.

30. Ibid., p. 88.

31. Ibid., p. 114-5.

32. Leslie Lenkowsky, "Reviews," NVSQ, Vol. 29, Issue 3, Sept. 2000, p.489.

33. Berry, op. cit., p. 100.

34. Ibid., p. 160.

35. Ibid., p. 2.

36. Lenkowsky, op. cit., p. 489.

37. Berry, op. cit., p. 138.

38. Berry, op. cit., p. 91.

39. E. J. Dionne, Jr., "Best Bets for the Democrats," Washington Post, Jan. 9, 2001, p.A23.

40. Himmelstein, op. cit., p. 208.

41. Ricci, op. cit.

42. Eisenberg, op. cit.

43. Douglas R. Imig, Poverty and Power: The Political Representation of Poor Americans, Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press,1996.

44. Steve Valocci, Contemporary Sociology. As quoted in "From the Critics," http://www.Barnes & - Poverty and Power: The Political Representation..., 2001.

45. Himmelstein, op. cit., p. 206.

46. David C. Hammack, "Think Tanks and the Invention of Policy Studies," NVSQ, Vol. 24, Issue 2, Summer1995, p.173-4.

47. James A. Smith, The Idea Brokers: Think Tanks and the Rise of the New Policy Elite, New York, NY: The Free Press, 1991, p. 206.

48. Callahan, op. cit., p. 37.

49. Hart, op. cit., p. 20.

50. Smith, op. cit.; Ricci, op. cit.; Beth Baker and Dave Ransom, Burgeoning Conservative Think Tanks, Washington, DC: National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, 1991.

51. Sally Covington and Larry Parachini, Foundations in the Newt Era, Washington, DC: National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy,1995, pp. 15-18.

52. Sally Covington, Moving a Public Policy Agenda: The Strategic Philanthropy of Conservative Foundations, Washington, DC: National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, 1997.

53. J. Craig Jenkins and Abigail Halcli, "Grassrooting the System: The Development and Impact of Social Movement Philanthropy, 1953-1990." In Ellen Condliffe Lagemann (ed.) Philanthropic Foundations: New Scholarship, New Possibilities, Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 1999, pp. 229-256.

54. Ibid.

55. Ibid., p. 48.

56. Mark Dowie, American Foundations: An Investigative History, Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2001, p. 214.

57. Callahan, op. cit.

58. Ibid., p. 5.

59. Ibid.

60. Ibid., p. 29.

61. Dowie, op. cit., p. 216.

62. Callahan, op. cit., p. 6.

63. Covington, op. cit.

64. Berry, op. cit., p. 93.

65. Himmelstein, op. cit., p. 210.

66. Himmelstein, op. cit., p. 210-11.

67. Hart, op. cit., p. 4.

68. John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address, Jan. 20, 1961.

69. Commission on Private Philanthropy and Public Needs (Filer Commission), Giving in America: Toward a Stronger Voluntary Sector. Report of the Commission on Private Philanthropy and Public Needs, Washington, DC: Commission on Private Philanthropy and Public Needs, 1975.

70. Thomas R. Asher, "Public Needs, Public Policy, and Philanthropy: An Analysis of the Basic Issues and Their Treatment by the Commission on Private Philanthropy and Public Needs;" Carey, Sarah C. "Philanthropy and the Powerless." Carey, Sarah C. "Philanthropy and the Powerless;" David Horton Smith, "The Role of the United Way in Philanthropy;" Mary J. Tully, "Who's Funding the Women's Movement?" In Research Papers sponsored by the Commission on Private Philanthropy and Public Needs,Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Treasury,1977.

71. Commission on Private Philanthropy and Public Needs, op. cit.; Donee Group, Private Philanthropy: Vital & Innovative? or Passive & Irrelevant? Washington, DC: Donee Group, 1975.

72. David Hunter, Keynote speech at the Council on Foundations annual conference, Chicago, 1975.

73. Althea K. Nagai, Robert Lerner & Stanley Rothman, Giving for Social Change: Foundations, Public Policy, and the American Political Agenda,Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers,1994, pp. 36-7.

74. Heather MacDonald, "Destructive Philanthropy," The Wall Street Journal (quoted in Dowie, op. cit., p. 213).

75. Emmett D. Carson, "The Roles of Indigenous and Institutional Philanthropy in Advancing Social Justice." In Clotfelter, C. & Ehrlich, T. (ed.) Philanthropy and the nonprofit sector in a changing America, Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1999, p. 269.

76. Barry D. Karl and Stanley N. Katz, "Foundations and Ruling Class Elites," Daedalus 116, no. 1, 1987, pp. 1-40.

77. Jenkins and Halcli, op. cit.

78. Bay Area Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, Small Change from Big Bucks: A Report and Recommendations on Bay Area Foundations and Social Change, San Francisco: Bay Area Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, 1979, p. 6.

79. Imig, op. cit., p. 38.

80. Jenkins and Halcli, op. cit. Of this $88 million, $68 million was granted by private and community foundations and $20 million by new alternative funding institutions and religious funders. See later discussion of these alternative and religious funders.

81. Alan Rabinowitz, Social Change Philanthropy in America, Westport, CT: Quorum Books, 1990, p. 41.

82. Ibid., pp.4-5.

83. Sally Covington, Community Foundations and the Disenfranchised: A Summary Report on Ten Top Community Foundations' Responsiveness to Low Income and Other Historically Disenfranchised Groups in American Society, Washington, DC: National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, November, 1994, pp. 48 and 50.

84. Sally Covington, Community Foundations and Citizen Empowerment: Limited Support for Democratic Renewal, Washington, DC: National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, December, 1994, p. 6.

85. Carson, op. cit., p. 250.

86. National Network of Grantmakers, Social Change Grantmaking in the U.S.: The Mid-1990s, San Diego: National Network of Grantmakers, 1998.

87. Jenkins and Halcli and NNG utilized very similar samples of funders in their research. The former identified funders starting with those in The Grant-Seekers Guide(s), published initially by NNG, and expanding through "snowball" nominations to include ultimately a total of 146 foundations and religious funders. NNG surveyed its 160 foundation and religious funder members and reviewed data about women's funds from the Women's Funding Network. However, Jenkins and Halcli used a strict definition of social movement funding in coding foundation grants (see above), while NNG collected data through its members, who were allowed to designate "their own 'social change' grants according to each organization's grant making philosophy" which meant that "definitions... [varied] widely from one institution to another." (Aileen Shaw, E-mail to the author, July 25, 2000.)

88. American Cancer Society, IRS Form 990, Year 2001, p. 1.

89. Nagai, Lerner and Rothman, op. cit., p. 36.

90. Ibid., p. 128.

91. Although this 2.7% proportion for liberal groups' public policy grants exceeds that documented by Jenkins and Halcli (1.1% for "social movements" in 1990) and NNG (2.4% for "social change" in 1997), it has to be recognized that "public policy" grants cover a much broader spectrum than the categories defined by Jenkins and Halcli or NNG.

92. Jenkins and Halcli, op. cit., p. 253.

93. Dowie, op. cit., pp. 199-200.

94. Ibid., p. 203.

95. Ibid., p. 218.

96. As quoted in Ibid., p.218.

97. Steven L. Paprocki and Robert O. Bothwell, Corporate Grantmaking: Racial/Ethnic Populations, Phase One,Washington, DC: National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy,1993; Steven L. Paprocki and Robert O. Bothwell, Answering the Call? The Telecommunications Industry's Grantmaking for Racial/Ethnic Communities,Washington, DC: National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, 1995; Steven L. Paprocki, Grants: Corporate Grantmaking for Racial and Ethnic Communities, Wakefield, RI: Moyer Bell, 2000.

98. Steven Paprocki, Telephone conversation with author, Nov. 28, 2000.

99. Loren Renz, Foundation Giving, New York: Foundation Center, 1991; Loren Renz, Steven Lawrence & Richard R. Treiber, Foundation Giving, New York: Foundation Center, 1995; Loren Renz, Crystal Mandler & Trink C. Tran, Foundation Giving, New York: Foundation Center, 1997. It is interesting that the Foundation Center only studies corporate foundations, while NCRP reviewed grants by both corporate foundations and some other corporate giving programs. Also, the Foundation Center classifies only grants of $10,000 and up, while the NCRP studies classified all grants of $1,000 and up.

100. Lester M. Salamon, "Explaining Nonprofit Advocacy: An Exploratory Analysis," Presented at Independent Sector Spring Research Forum, Alexandria, VA, March 24, 1995.

101. Marvin N. Olasky, Patterns of Corporate Philanthropy: Public Affairs Giving and the Forbes One Hundred, Washington, DC: Capital Research Center, 1987; Roger E. Meiners and David N. Laband, Patterns of Corporate Philanthropy, Washington, DC: Capital Research Center, 1988; James T. Bennett, Patterns of Corporate Philanthropy: Ideas, Advocacy, and the Corporation, Washington, DC: Capital Research Center, 1989; Thomas J. DiLorenzo, Patterns of Corporate Philanthropy, Washington, DC: Capital Research Center, 1990.

102. Dave Ransom, Rightwing Attacks on Corporate Giving,Washington, DC: National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, 1990.

103. Robert O. Bothwell & Dan Delany, Charity at the Workplace 1997, Washington, DC: National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, 1998.

104. Covington, 1997, op. cit., p.48.

105. Robert O. Bothwell, "Foundation Funding of Grassroots Organizations," International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing, Vol. 7, No. 4, Nov. 2002, p. 387.

106. Ibid., pp. 387-8.

107. Laurie Drabble & Michelle Abrenilla, A Democratic Landscape: Funding Social Change in California, Washington, DC: National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, 2000, p. 3.

108. Ibid., p. 21.

109. Ibid., p. 3.

110. Ibid., p. 21.

111. Ibid.

112. Ibid., p. 3.

113. Steven Lawrence, Robin Gluck & Dia Ganguly, Foundation Giving Trends, New York, NY: The Foundation Center, 2001, p. 39.

114. Steven Burkeman, "Allen Lane Lecture," Trust Monitor, Autumn, 1999.

115. Covington and Parachini, op. cit.

116. Drabble and Abenilla, op. cit., p. 3.

117. Quoted in Rabinowitz, op. cit., p. xi.

118. Rabinowitz, op. cit., pp. 6-8.

119. Ibid., p. xvi.

120. Ibid., p. 9.

121. Robert Heilbroner, "The Triumph of Capitalism," New Yorker Magazine, Jan. 23, 1989, pp. 98-109 (Quoted in Rabinowitz, op. cit., p. 10).

122. Rabinowitz, op. cit., pp. 10-11.

123. "Formed nearly 20 years ago, NNG's 400 members share the belief that a fully functioning democracy depends upon an involved and empowered citizenry sharing in the responsibilities and benefits of society."

124. J. Craig Jenkins, "Foundation Funding of Progressive Social Movements." In Jill R. Shellow (ed.) Grant Seekers Guide: Funding Sourcebook, Mt. Kisco, NY: Moyer Bell Limited, 1989, pp. 9.

125. Jenkins, 1999, op. cit., p. 231.

126. Rabinowitz, op. cit.

127. Rabinowitz, op. cit., p. 46.

128. Ibid., p. 8.

129. Ibid., p. 51.

130. Ibid., pp. 49-50.

131. Ibid., p. 8.

132. Ibid., p. 44.

133. Jenkins, 1989, op. cit., p. 46.

134. Jenkins, 1999, op. cit., p. 230-1.

135. Jenkins, 1999, op. cit.

136. National Network of Grantmakers, op. cit.

137. Steven Lawrence, Robin Gluck and Dia Ganguly, Foundation Yearbook: Facts and Figures on Private and Community Foundations, New York: The Foundation Center, 2001.

138. Robert O. Bothwell, "Alternative Funding Institutions Have Become Serious Competitors with Mainline Foundations in Funding Progressive Social Change," unpublished paper, Washington, DC: National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, Jan. 25, 2001.

139. Covington, 1997, op. cit.

140. National Network of Grantmakers, op. cit., p. 1.

141. Susan A. Ostrander, E-mail to author, Jan. 5, 2001.

142. National Network of Grantmakers, op. cit.

143. Based on J. Craig Jenkins, email communication with author, 2001.

144. Rabinowitz, op. cit., p. 31.

145. Melissa S. Brown, Ed., Giving USA 2002, Indianapolis, IN: Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, 2003, p. 171.

146. Interfaith Funders, 1999 Annual Report (draft) , New York: Interfaith Funders, 2000 forthcoming, p. 7.

147. Wendy Oldham, Program Director, National Black United Fund, Newark, NJ. Telephone conversation with author, June 19, 2000.

148. National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, The Combined Federal Campaign: A Special Report, Washington, DC: National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, 1988.

149. NACG/National Alliance for Choice in Giving, "Federal Giving Rises to $224 Million," Workplace Giving News, Summer, 2001.

150. Professor Eleanor Brilliant's comprehensive history of The United Way, documents the early successes of United Ways, the rise of the Alternative Funds movement, the failures of United Ways to adapt to a changing environment in the 1980s and the whole CFC battle and outcome. Published in 1992, the book ends before the huge scandal involving United Way of America president, Bill Aramony. The courts found him guilty of financial irregularities and imprisoned him, leaving the United Way network with a huge negative public relations image and at loose ends as to future directions.

151. Bothwell and Delany, op. cit.

152. Bothwell, 2001, op. cit.

153. Bothwell and Delany, op. cit.

154. Women's Funding Network, Facts about Women's Funds: 1997 Financials, 1998 Demographics, St. Paul, MN: Women's Funding Network, 1999.

155. Mary Ellen S. Capek, "Foundation Support for Women and Girls: 'Special Interest' Funding or Effective Philanthropy?" Vol. 2. In M. E. S. Capek (Ed.), Women and Philanthropy: Old Stereotypes and New Challenges (Monograph Series), San Francisco: Women's Funding Network, 1998.

156. Zak Mettger, Women's Funds, Washington, DC: National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, 1986; Eleanor L. Brilliant, "Women's Gain: Fund Raising and Fund Allocation as an Evolving Social Movement Strategy," Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Vol. 29, No. 4, Dec. 2000, pp. 554-570.

157. Brilliant, op. cit., pp.557-8. Brilliant goes on to note that early Women's Fund organizers "eschewed formal identification with the term feminist and defined themselves as part of a 'woman's' funding network. The emphasis on woman and not feminist resulted from an effort to avoid conflicts that could have ensued over the formal declaration of a feminist ideology, particularly since the emphasis was on gaining resources for women (and girls)" p.558.

158. Carol Mollner, Founding Executive Director of National Network of Women's Funds/Women's Funding Network, E-mail of June 29, 2001.

159. Joanne Hayes, former Executive Director of Women in Foundations/Corporate Philanthropy//Women & Philanthropy, E-mails of June 28 and June 30, 2001.

160. Capek, op. cit.

161. Brilliant, op. cit., p. 559.

162. Anita Lalwani, Women's Funding Network, email to author, Jan. 23, 2003.

163. Brilliant, op. cit., p. 558.

164. Mollner, op. cit.

165. Women's Funding Network, op. cit.

166. Ibid.

167. Brilliant, op. cit., p. 560.

168. Quoted in Michael May, Are We Ready? Social Change Philanthropy and the Coming $10 Trillion Transfer of Wealth, Washington, DC: National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, 1999, p. 19.

169. Capek, op. cit.

170. Women's Funding Network, Ask a Woman for Directions, 2001 Annual Report, San Francisco: Women's Funding Network, 2002.

171. Brilliant, op. cit., p. 561.

172. Capek, op. cit.

173. Funding Exchange, 20th Anniversary Report, 1979-1999 (draft), New York: Funding Exchange, 2000, p. 9.

174. May, op. cit., p. 34.

175. Susan A. Ostrander, Money for change: social movement philanthropy at Haymarket People's Fund, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1995, p. 9.

176. Vanguard Public Foundation, Robin Hood Was Right: A Guide for Giving Your Money for Social Change, San Francisco: Vanguard Public Foundation, 1977.

177. May, op. cit., p. 33.

178. Ibid.

179. Funding Exchange, op. cit., p. 6.

180. Ostrander, op. cit., p. 98.

181. Funding Exchange, op. cit., p. 6.

182. Ibid., p. 3.

183. Ibid., p. 22.

184. Ibid., p. 26.

185. Ron Hanft, Estimate of Grants to Groups & Issues Affecting Lesbians, Gay Men, Bi-sexual and Transgender Persons (and for all other purposes), Unpublished statistics, New York City: Funding Exchange, June 16, 2000.

186. Ron Hanft, Funding Exchange national office, E-mail of July 5, 2001.

187. May, op. cit., p. 34.

188. Ibid.

189. Chuck Collins and Pam Rogers, with Joan P. Garner, Robin Hood Was Right: A Guide to Giving Your Money for Social Change, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2000.

190. Funding Exchange, op. cit., p. 11-12.

191. Ostrander, op. cit., p.168.

192. Funding Exchange, op. cit., p. 25.

193. Both Tides Foundation and Tides Center run their operations off earned income, often a percentage of the grant money they process. Pablo Eisenberg criticizes Tides for taking 10% of all the money passing through it for its operations. However, Pike argues that operating on such earned income means that neither the Foundation nor the Center have to seek grants for operations in competition with their grantees and incubating small nonprofits.

194. A. Ewen and J. Wollock, Native Americans in Philanthropy: Survey of Grant Giving by American Indian Foundations and Organizations, Lumberton, NC: Native Americans in Philanthropy, 1996.

195. Ibid., p. 3.

196. Ibid.

197. Nancy Cunningham, Exec. Director, The Working Group on Lesbian and Gay Issues, Letter to author, June 12, 2000.

198. Prudence Hockley, Review of Silent Spring by Rachael Carson. In Erica Bauermeister et al (Ed.), 500 Great Books by Women: A Reader's Guide, 1994.

199. Bothwell and Delany, op. cit.

200. Kal Stein, Executive Director of Earth Share, Washington, DC, Telephone conversation, June 26, 2000.

201. Bothwell, 2001, op. cit.

202. Bothwell and Delany, op. cit.

203. Henry A. J. Ramos and Gabriel Kasper, "Latinos and community funds: a comparative overview and assessment of Latino philanthropic self-help initiatives." In Diana Campoamor, William A. Diaz and Henry A. J. Ramos (Ed.), Nuevos Senderos: Reflections on Hispanics and Philanthropy, Houston: Arte Publico Press, University of Houston, 1999; May, op. cit.

204. Ibid., p. 167.

205. William A. Diaz, "Philanthropy and the Case of the Latino Communities in America," In Clotfelter, C. & Ehrlich, T. (ed.) Philanthropy and the nonprofit sector in a changing America, Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1999, p. 283, 285-7.

206. May, op. cit., p. 15.

207. National Network of Grantmakers, op. cit.

208. Bothwell, 2001, op. cit. To the National Network of Grantmakers' total tally of $336 million for social change grantmaking in 1997 must be added an additional $77 million for uncounted grants and allocations by churches, alternative funds doing workplace fund raising and other public charities, raising the total to $413 million; the alternative funding institutions' $106 million is 26% of the $413 million total.

209. Carson, op. cit., pp. 250.