on-line, in reports and directories, and in person at five Foundation Center libraries and through approximately 200 cooperating collections throughout the United States and in selected other countries.
Founded in 1956 as the Foundation Library Center, the Foundation Center was the brainchild of James Perkins and John Gardner of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, a private foundation that provided it with initial funding. Its mission was to improve foundations' accountability and accessibility to the public. The Foundation Center's first president was F. Emerson Andrews, an executive at the Russell Sage Foundation who was an author and observer of foundations. In 1958, Marianna Olmstead Lewis compiled by hand the first Foundation Directory, which was published in 1960. The Foundation Directory is now the classic reference work that provides basic information on large grant-making foundations.
In addition to the Foundation Directory, which provides a brief factual and financial description of each of the largest U.S. foundations, the Foundation Center publishes approximately 50 reports and directories. The Foundation Grants Index is a compilation of grants awarded by the largest U.S. foundations and others, classified by the National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities. Foundation Giving: A Yearbook of Facts and Figures on Private, Corporate, and Community Foundations is an indispensable guide to current statistics on philanthropic foundations. The Foundation 1000 provides in-depth analysis of the largest 1,000 foundations. National Data Book of Foundations lists all U.S. foundations. Foundation Fundamentals explains how to conduct research to identify potential sources of grant support among private grantors. The Literature of the Nonprofit Sector: A Bibliography with Abstracts reports annually on research and articles concerning philanthropy and nonprofit organizations.
The Foundation Center supplies its foundation directories and other publications to cooperating facilities in public, university, government, and foundation libraries in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Australia, Canada, England, Japan, and Mexico. Materials are available free of charge at these facilities. Through orientation programs and educational seminars the center instructs the grant-seeking public about private funding sources.
The public can also access the Internal Revenues Service disclosure forms (Forms 990-PF), required of each private foundation, at the Foundation Center libraries. These forms are public documents that report financial information, including expenses and assets, as well as grants awarded. In addition to the Forms 990-PF, the center's staffed libraries ( New York, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Cleveland, and San Francisco) include reference books, foundation annual reports, newsletters, clippings, application guidelines, and historical and other research materials. Each year approximately 250,000 people are served directly or indirectly by the center.
The Foundation Center is governed by a board of directors and supported by grants from more than 500 foundations and corporations, as well as by fees for services.
ELIZABETH T. BORIS
Freeman, David, and the Council on Foundations, 1991. The Handbook on Private Foundations. Rev. ed. New York: Foundation Center.
Williams, Roger M., 1985. "The Readiest Reference: Foundation Center Every Grantseeker's Personal Library", Foundation News, vol. 25, no. 6 (November-December): 26-32.
FOUNDATIONS. Nonprofit, nongovernmental organizations that promote charitable giving and other public purposes usually by giving grants of money to nonprofit organizations, qualified individuals, and other entities. Under United States law, philanthropic foundations must serve the public by being organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary, or educational purposes. In addition to providing grants, foundations may provide services, make loans, conduct research, hold conferences, publish reports, and undertake other related activities.
Foundations are formed by individuals, families, and business corporations, which usually donate money, property, or other financial assets. These assets form an endowment or principal fund from which interest is derived and used to support expenses and grant making. Some foundations are not endowed, but receive periodic gifts from their donors.
There are two major types of philanthropic foundations: private foundations (independent, company-sponsored, and operating foundations) and public foundations (community foundations, women's funds, and others). The term "foundation," however, is often used by organizations that are not philanthropic grantors, and private foundations may use a variety of terms to describe themselves. In addition to "foundations," they are called "funds" (the Rockefeller Brothers Fund), "corporations" (the Carnegie Corporation of New York), "trusts," (the Lucille P. Markey Charitable Trust), and "endowments," (the Lilly Endowment).
Foundations may be organized in perpetuity or only for a specified time period. When a foundation is terminated, all of its assets must be used for charitable purposes.
In 1992 there were 35,765 foundations, according to the Foundation Center, a nonprofit organization that compiles and publishes information about foundations. The foundation field is highly concentrated. The largest foundations, those with US $50 million or more, are responsible for 66.2 percent of assets and 48 percent of