The research project “Foundations” started in 2002 with support from Riksbankens Jubileumsfond and Öhrlings PricewaterhouseCoopers.
One mapping has been conducted so far. The structure, economy and activities in the Swedish nonprofit sector have been studied for 2002. This unique data material has been used to analyze trends and structures of the Swedish foundation sector in a European comparison. Both qualitative and quantitative methods have been used in the project and it has resulted in several books and reports and one current focus of the project is to understand the strategy of foundation leaders as well as the internal governance systems of foundations.
Foundation grant giving and stakeholder perceptions
The research project is concerned with empirically examining whether foundations do what they say they do, a question that has long gone unanswered in philanthropic research, and particularly within comparative philanthropic research. Specifically, the project focus on examining the ‘change strategies’ as typified by Prewitt (2006) of Swedish savings bank foundations and US Community Foundations. Focusing on this type of foundation is most interesting because as scholars and practitioners have indicated there is a balancing act for these foundations, or what has been coined specific ‘strategic directions,’ of these foundations as they not only serve the public through grants they award, but also have an additional task of attracting and engaging donors (Graddy and Morgan, 2006). Yet research demonstrates that just understanding the specific strategic directions these foundations take are really the beginning of a research program.
The project uses mixed methods, employing both quantitative and qualitative methods to empirically examine the role and impact of grant making strategies in Swedish and US foundations over time. The overall goal is to create a conceptual model based on a case study of three savings bank foundations in Sweden and three community foundations in the US that allow us to gain an understanding of the link between articulated ‘change strategies’ of philanthropic organizations and the reality of their grantmaking activities and perceptions by stakeholders. This project is conducted together with Jasmine McGinnis from Georgia State University, USA and is planned to be finished during 2011.