Foundations in Germany and the United States

A Comparative Analysis
  • Helmut K. Anheier
  • Frank P. Romo
Part of the Nonprofit and Civil Society Studies book series (NCSS)


Philanthropic foundations are a rare species. Ylvesaker 1987, p. 360) remarked that they are a “mere speck on the canvas of American society,” accounting for only approximately 3 percent of the over 1 million tax-exempt organizations. In Germany, where their number amounts to about 2 percent of the 280,000 registered associations, they are almost as rare as stock corporations, which number less than four thousand. Like in the United States, German foundations are among the most infrequent organizational forms. In other countries as well, grantmaking foundations are few, both in absolute numbers and in relative terms, when compared either to the total number of organizations in society or viewed as a proportion of the nonprofit entities (see Chapter 1, this volume, Renz & Lawrence, 1993, pp. 7–9). Nonetheless, foundations are increasing in number; and in many countries, we are experiencing a kind of foundation renaissance. Some observers such as Berkel et al. (1989) go as far and speak of a new, third “foundation wave,” after a first growth period in the late Middle Ages, alongside the rise of commerce and finance, and a second one in the late nineteenth century, following the industrial revolution.


Total Asset Legal Form Limited Liability Company Large Foundation Internal Revenue Service 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helmut K. Anheier
    • 1
  • Frank P. Romo
    • 2
  1. 1.London School of EconomicsCentre for Voluntary OrganisationLondonUK
  2. 2.Department of SociologyState University of New York at Stony BrookStony BrookUSA

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