International Encyclopedia of Civil Society

2010 Edition
| Editors: Helmut K. Anheier, Stefan Toepler

Foundations, Functions of

  • Volker Then
  • Konstantin Kehl
Reference work entry


Foundations are inherently political institutions. In that capacity they are dependent on and a formative element of the political culture of a country and its society. Foundations very much depend on the third sector regime, and different models of foundation sectors in societies can be distinguished. These models in turn have a strong influence on the roles which foundations play in society.

At the heart of the political nature of foundations lies their independence – of any other controlling force. They have no owners, no members, are usually not subject to direct political or state intervention, and do not depend on clients or market forces. Their legal status grants them a substantial degree of autonomy, only to be limited by the binding forces of their charter and mission as determined by their donors or founders. As a result of this particular position in society, foundations enjoy an extraordinary degree of freedom. At the same time however, they are subject to...

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References/Further Readings

  1. Anheier, H. K., & Daly, S. (2007). The politics of foundations. A comparative analysis. London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  2. Anheier, H. K., & Leat, D. (2006). Creative philanthropy. Towards a new philanthropy for the twenty-first century. London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  3. Anheier, H. K., & Then, V. (2004). Zwischen Eigennutz und Gemeinwohl. Neue Formen und Wege der Gemeinnützigkeit. Gütersloh: Bertelsmann.Google Scholar
  4. Aydin, D. (2001). Turkey. In A. Schlüter, V. Then, & P. Walkenhorst (Eds.), Foundations in Europe (pp. 259–267). London: Directory of Social Change.Google Scholar
  5. Esping-Andersen, G. (1990). The three worlds of welfare capitalism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Kanter, R. M. (1983). The change masters. New York: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
  7. Kehl, K., & Then, V. (2009a). Strategiebildung im Sozialsektor: Die Lebensräume der Stiftung Liebenau. In R. Buber, & M. Meyer (Eds.), Fallstudien zum Nonprofit Management. Praktische BWL f r Vereine und Sozialeinrichtungen, (2nd Ed.). Stuttgart: Schäffer & Poeschel.Google Scholar
  8. Kehl, K., & Then, V. (2009b). B rgerschaftliches Engagement im Kontext von Familie und familiennahen Dienstleistungen. Gemeinschaftliche Wohnmodelle als Ausweg aus dem Unterst tzungs- und Pflegedilemma? Expertise des Centrums f r soziale Investitionen und Innovationen (CSI) zum Bericht zur Lage und den Perspektiven des ZivilEngagements in Deutschland. Berlin: WZB.Google Scholar
  9. Moore, B. Jr. (1966). Social origins of dictatorship and democracy: Lord and peasant in the making of the modern world. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  10. Salamon, L. M. (2006). Government-nonprofit relations from an international perspective. In E. T. Boris & C. E. Steuerle (Eds.), Nonprofits & government. Collaboration & conflict (pp. 399–437). Washington, DC: Urban Institute Press.Google Scholar
  11. Salamon, L., & Anheier, H. K. (1998). Social origins of civil Society: Explaining the nonprofit sector cross-nationally. Voluntas, 9(3), 213–248.Google Scholar
  12. Smith, J. A., & Borgmann, K. (2001). Foundations in Europe: The historical context. In A. Schlüter, V. Then, & P. Walkenhorst (Eds.), Foundations in Europe (pp. 2–34). London: Directory of Social Change.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Volker Then
    • 1
  • Konstantin Kehl
    • 1
  1. 1.Universität HeidelbergHeidelbergGermany