Publications by RGK Faculty

Volunteers: A Social Profile

Wed, 11/07/2007

by Marc Musick and John Wilson

RGK Center Faculty Fellow Marc Musick has a new book on volunteering entitled Volunteers: A Social Profile. The book brings together the research of Musick and John Wilson (Duke University) and provides an examination of the causes and consequences of volunteering. The book argues that volunteers play a critical role in society; without them, many nonprofit, religious and governmental institutions would simply cease to function. Yet, recently a number of commentators have claimed that engagement in civic life and the quality of social connections are in decline, particularly in the United States. In this context, the need to know how and why people volunteer has become increasingly important.

Strategic Giving

Fri, 09/01/2006

by Peter Frumkin

The philanthropic landscape is changing dramatically as a new generation of wealthy donors seeks to leave its mark on the public sphere. Peter Frumkin reveals in Strategic Giving why donors could benefit from having a comprehensive plan to guide their giving. With this thoughtful and timely book, he provides the much-needed framework to understand and develop this kind of philanthropic strategy.
 

On Being Nonprofit: A Conceptual and Policy Primer

Tue, 09/06/2005

by Peter Frumkin

This concise and illuminating book provides a road map to the evolving conceptual and policy terrain of the nonprofit sector. Drawing on prominent economic, political, and sociological explanations of nonprofit activity, Peter Frumkin focuses on four important functions that have come to define nonprofit organizations. The author clarifies the debate over the underlying rationale for the nonprofit and voluntary sector's privileged position in America by examining how nonprofits deliver needed services, promote civic engagement, express values and faith, and channel entrepreneurial impulses. He also exposes the difficult policy questions that have emerged as the boundaries between the nonprofit, business, and government sectors have blurred. Focusing on nonprofits' growing dependence on public funding, tendency toward political polarization, often idiosyncratic missions, and increasing commercialism, Peter Frumkin argues that the long-term challenges facing nonprofit organizations will only be solved when they achieve greater balance among their four central functions. By probing foundational thinking as well as emergent ideas, the book is an essential guide for nonprofit novitiates and experts alike who want to understand the issues propelling public debate about the future of their sector. By virtue of its breadth and insight, Frumkin's book will be an invaluable resource for anyone interested in understanding the complex interplay of public purposes and private values that animate nonprofit organizations.

Trustees of Culture: Power, Wealth, and Status on Elite Arts Boards

Sat, 05/15/2004

by Francie Ostrower

Cultural trusteeship is a subject that fascinates those who wonder about the relationship between power and culture. What compels the wealthy to serve on the boards of fine arts institutions? How do they exercise their influence as trustees, and how does this affect the way arts institutions operate? To find out, Francie Ostrower conducted candid personal interviews with 76 trustees drawn from two opera companies and two art museums in the United States.

Her new study demonstrates that members of elite arts boards walk a fine line between maintaining their status and serving the needs of the large-scale organizations they oversee. As class members whose status depends in part on the prestige of the boards on which they serve, trustees seek to perpetuate arts boards as exclusive elite enclaves. But in response to pressures to increase and diversify the audiences for arts institutions, elite board members act in a surprisingly open manner in terms of organizational accessibility and operations.

Written with clarity and grace, Trustees of Culture will contribute significantly to our understanding of organizational governance; the politics of fundraising; elite arts participation and philanthropy; as well as the consequences of wider social policies that continue to emphasize private financial support. Ostrower's study will prove to be indispensable reading for not just sociologists of culture, but anyone interested in how the arts are financially and institutionally supported.

In Search of the Nonprofit Sector

Tue, 02/10/2004

Peter Frumkin and Jonathan B. Imber, editors

At a time when boundaries between the nonprofit, business, and public sectors have grown increasingly confused and contested, this volume by leading experts on nonprofit organizations offers new ideas and and frameworks for understanding the terrain that lies between the state and the market. The chapters span a broad range of emerging issues including nonprofit commercialism, sector-bending hybrid organizational forms, increasingly sophisticated nonprofit advocacy activities, newly hatched forms of volunteerism and philanthropy, tensions in public-nonprofit contracting, and new roles for faith-based nonprofits in social provision.

 

Why the Wealthy Give: The Culture of Elite Philanthropy

Wed, 04/02/1997

by Francie Ostrower

Through a series of candid personal interviews with nearly one hundred donors, Why the Wealthy Give offers an in-depth look at the world of elite philanthropy. Francie Ostrower focuses on the New York City area, with its high concentration of affluent donors, to explore both the motivations of individual donors and the significance of philanthropy for the culture and organization of elite groups. In so doing, she offers an account of why the wealthy give that also provides insight into the nature of elite culture, status, identity, and cohesion. Emphasizing the diversity of philanthropy, the book also shows how and why different types of donors support different causes. It further demonstrates how, in the face of considerable change, elite philanthropy has adapted and therefore endured. A timely discussion explores the ways in which elite donors view the respective roles of government and philanthropy. Why the Wealthy Give shows that elite philanthropy involves far more than writing a check. The wealthy take philanthropy and adapt it into an entire way of life that serves as a vehicle for the social and cultural life of their class. This is reflected in the widespread popularity of educational and cultural causes among donors. At the same time, Ostrower finds divergent patterns of giving that reflect alternative sources of donor identity, such as religion, ethnicity, and gender, and explains why certain kinds of donors are more or less likely to diverge from the prestige hierarchy of their class in their philanthropy.

Perpetuity or Spend-Down: Does the Notion of Lifespan Matter in Organized Philanthropy?

Publication Site

Are foundations with set periods for spending down their assets more effective as grantmakers than their peers who are established to exist in perpetuity? This is a longstanding discussion among philanthropists, with an article on the topic by Ray Madoff and Rob Reich published just yesterday in the Chronicle of Philanthropy. But Dr. Francie Ostrower, who has done extensive and in-depth research into this aspect of foundations, has some answers that may surprise readers.