Do foundations matter? In this time of unparallelled growth of endowments, organizations and grants, this question seems to be redundant. But the increasing amount of money awarded by grantmakers every year does not necessarily correspond with an ever more significant impact of their endeavours.
Thanks to the extraordinary growth of global capital markets and the often-cited and ill-studied intergenerational transfer of wealth to the next generation, the prospects for a further growth of organized philanthropy are very promising. These new resources will inevitably entail new fields of activity and a new definition of the functions of foundation work. In short, foundations will face new tasks and responsibilities in supporting an active civil society on a global scale.
Simultaneously, the external context of the field is undergoing a radical transformation. This involves nothing less than a new balance in the division of labour between the state and civil society in many fields of public life. The public poverty in the industrialized world – not to mention Eastern Europe and the developing countries – demands new agents of change, public welfare and innovation.