All of you who are struggling to get your next foundation grant application pulled together and those of you who work earnestly as foundation staff or trustees may want to pause and think about how these entities – the powerful, life-giving, and capricious foundations – came into existence. Here’s the short version.
Though charitable foundations have a long history in the United States (some credit Benjamin Franklin with creating the first foundation, the progenitor of the Philadelphia Foundation), they did not gain prominence until early in the twentieth century.
The first two permanent foundations of note were created by Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller. Let’s look at Rockefeller, courtesy of “Titan,” a remarkable biography by Ron Chernow. Continue reading