Foundations have been described as black boxes — implying that we know very little about what happens between inputs and outputs. We do know that they operate in dynamic environments and must adopt strategies to be effective in the face of change. This article, which examines the strategies of 29 foundations operating in one southeastern state, provides fresh insights into how foundations fulfill their missions.
The article is based on a research study that used semistructured interviews to explore how foundations approached grantmaking. Interviewees discussed the multiple and simultaneous roles played by grantmakers in addition to their traditional check-writing function.
While much of how a foundation applies its resources to its mission is still hidden from public view, strategic approaches make this application more transparent and predictable. Further, understanding the motivations and adaptations of these strategies helps explain the collective work of the sector.
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Stewart, A. (2017). Inside the Black Box: Investigating Philanthropic Foundation Strategies in a Dynamic Environment. The Foundation Review, 9(4). https://doi.org/10.9707/1944-5660.1387