Should foundations get a say in grantees’ operations, or butt out? How much does a charity’s effectiveness affect giving decisions? A Foundation Source survey tackled these and other questions.
Charitable giving in the U.S. has garnered much mainstream media attention in recent years, and with it commentary about key issues such as strategic philanthropy, impact investing and collaboration.
Foundation Source, which provides support services for 1,100 private foundations, released a study on Thursday of donors’ beliefs and perceptions about some of philanthropy’s current hot-button issues.
The survey derived results from 198 respondents, the majority of whom have private foundations with less than $50 million in assets. Foundations of this size account for 98% of the approximately 86,000 private foundations in the U.S., Foundation Source said in a statement.
Debate continues within the philanthropic sector whether foundations should simply write a check to nonprofits and butt out of their business, or drive the agenda, asking nonprofits to carry out their vision.
An overwhelming 77.5% of respondents preferred to support nonprofits without telling them what to do because that would negate the value of their “on-the-ground” knowledge. Only 22.5% of foundations preferred a more entrepreneurial approach.
Foundation respondents were ambivalent about collaboration with other foundations, considered a “transformative trend” by many in philanthropic circles.
The survey found that 24.9% of foundations had collaborated with other foundations, while 20.8% had not done so but planned to in the near future. More than half of respondents had neither collaborated nor had plans to do so in the future.
Interestingly, no respondents who had worked with other foundations in the past year said they would never collaborate again, suggesting that those who partnered with other foundations found the experience worthwhile.