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[Review] Philanthropic Foundations in International Development: Rockefeller, Ford and Gates

August 24, 2021

Book_cover_Philanthropic_Foundations_in_International_Development_centeredAmerican foundations have shaped the world we live in. It's an extraordinary feat considering that the combined giving of all U.S. foundations in 2020 was only about $75 billion — a drop in the bucket compared with the U.S. economy's $22 trillion GDP. But over the past century, those unfettered billions have served to create and reinforce systems, norms, and behaviors that are so pervasive that at times we don't even realize there was a time they didn't exist. The hand of large-scale philanthropy can be felt from the cradle to the grave, from hospitals and schools to libraries and universities, museums, theaters, public spaces, even the food we eat. And it is not just in the United States; American foundations have purposefully gone abroad — as Americans do — to help establish some of the very institutions that underpin the global system. Today roughly one in ten foundation dollars goes overseas.

In Philanthropic Foundations in International Development: Rockefeller, Ford and Gates, Patrick Kilby reveals American philanthropy's travels abroad as a generations-long, if informal, project to preserve the status quo of the capitalist system on which American wealth — and philanthropy — are grounded. Whether a conscious pursuit of American Greatness or an inevitable outgrowth of the near-unrivaled dominance of U.S. economic power, the breadth and depth of American philanthropy's influence in setting the agenda of international development is truly astounding....

Read the full book review by Daniel X Matz, foundation web development manager at Candid.

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