Achieving philanthropic mission

Directing and managing grantmaking

Authored by: Peter Grant

The Routledge Companion to Philanthropy

Print publication date:  May  2016
Online publication date:  May  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415783255
eBook ISBN: 9781315740324
Adobe ISBN: 9781317579717


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Philanthropy is, in itself, an entirely unproductive process: philanthropic funds do nothing productive until they are transferred to a person or organization that puts them to use. Nonetheless, many mission statements from well-known grantmaking foundations claim or imply otherwise: ‘to improve the health and health care of all Americans’ or ‘to improve the quality of life throughout the UK’. Such statements give the impression of philanthropic organizations being directly involved in social missions when they are, actually, conduits through which social missions can be met. The importance of a grant as a ‘non-contractual one-way transfer of assets for a social purpose’ (Grant, 2012: 12) lies in the fact it is a transfer with a use as its goal. The ‘black box’ nature of philanthropic foundations (Bethmann et al., 2014), however, makes it difficult to understand the management and assess the achievements of their grantmaking and other ways in which they pursue their philanthropic missions.

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