The Foundation: A great American secret; How private wealth is changing the world

by Joel Fleishman


Private foundations have been the dynamo of social change since their invention at the beginning of the last century. Yet just over 10 percent of the public knows they even exist; and for those who are aware of them, as well as even those who seek grants from them, their internal workings remain a complete mystery.

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Although they are among our most powerful institutions, foundations are, conversely, the least accountable. Fleishman examines the roles foundations play in fueling the nonprofit sector, how they discharge their stewardship responsibilities, and the extent to which they produce significant measurable benefits to society. In the future, if foundations want to continue to enjoy the freedoms and flexibility they have in the past, they will have to be much more transparent about their decision making and operations.


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About the Author

Joel L. Fleishman is professor of Law and Public Policy at Duke University. He has served as president of the Atlantic Philanthropic Service Company, the U.S. program staff of Atlantic philanthropies, and currently serves as a trustee of The John and Mary Markle Foundation, chairman of the board of Trustees of the Urban Institute, and chairman of The Visiting Committee of the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. He is also a director of Boston Scientific Corporation, Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation and James River Group.

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