Powerless: How Top Foundations Failed to Defend Their Values—And Now Risk Losing Everything

In 1997, NCRP published a report by Sally Covington, Moving a Policy Agenda, that offered a chilling look at the rising influence of conservative philanthropy. Covington wrote, “Conservative funders see themselves as part of a larger movement to defeat ‘big-government liberalism’ and they fund accordingly, but mainstream foundations prefer to make modest, on-the-ground improvements in specific neighborhoods. As a result, mainstream foundations increasingly operate within the larger policy assumptions and parameters that conservative funders help shape.”

Covington’s report made waves in the foundation world and generated a lot of discussion, but few funders changed course. Then, during George W. Bush’s first term, Rob Stein started giving a PowerPoint presentation making many of the same points—and got traction with wealthy individual donors who were deeply alarmed by a president moving America in a hard-right direction. These donors stepped up to build such groups as the Democracy Alliance, the Center for American Progress and Media Matters for America. 

Read the entire article in Inside Philanthropy.