Maggie Morth
Communications Manager
The Foundation Center
(212) 807-2415

James M. Ferris, Ph.D.
The Center on Philanthropy
and Public Policy
(213) 740-0388

New York, NY -- March 30, 2009. The Foundation Center has just published Foundations and Public Policy: Leveraging Philanthropic Dollars, Knowledge, and Networks for Greater Impact. Exploring the related strategies, issues, and history, this new book examines the choices that foundations face when engaging in public policy work.

Throughout the 20th century, foundations have leveraged monetary and other forms of assets to influence public policy. In recent years, there has been growing interest in strategic philanthropy and the role of U.S. foundations in shaping public policy. The transfer of policy decisions to states and communities has created new opportunities for foundation engagement. "Conservative" foundations, in particular, have gained attention for their role in policy debates.

Foundations and Public Policy provides a framework for funders considering public policy engagement as a means of achieving their mission. Edited by Dr. James M. Ferris, director of the Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy at the University of Southern California, the book describes recent foundation efforts in the policy arenas of school choice, wetlands preservation, child care, and health care insurance. It addresses three fundamental issues:

  • Factors critical to a foundation's decision to engage in public policy work
  • Strategic and tactical options available to organizations that become involved
  • Implications for a foundation that chooses to use its assets to influence public policy

"We hope that this analysis will enable foundations to consider the potential contributions they can make to public problem-solving in an era of more devolved and fiscally constrained public decision-making," says Dr. Ferris in the book's foreword. "By engaging more foundations in public policy work, regardless of their points of view, philanthropy can strengthen policymaking in a pluralistic democracy."

Dr. Ferris holds the Emery Evans Olson Chair in Nonprofit Entrepreneurship and Public Policy in the School of Policy, Planning, and Development at the University of Southern California.

A team of experts in the field -- consultants, academics, and attorneys working with foundations -- contributed chapters that originated as papers commissioned for the Center on Philanthropy & Public Policy, funded by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. The papers were updated for publication with the encouragement and support of a grant from The California Endowment.

A resource for foundation professionals, legislators, and public policymakers as well as donors, board members, advisors, researchers, and philanthropy consultants, Foundations and Public Policy is available at the Center's Marketplace ($34.95).

About the Foundation Center
Established in 1956 and today supported by close to 600 foundations, the Foundation Center is the nation's leading authority on philanthropy, connecting nonprofits and the grantmakers supporting them to tools they can use and information they can trust. The Center maintains the most comprehensive database on U.S. grantmakers and their grants -- a robust, accessible knowledge bank for the sector. It also operates research, education, and training programs designed to advance knowledge of philanthropy at every level. Thousands of people visit the Center's web site each day and are served in its five regional library/learning centers and its network of more than 400 funding information centers located in public libraries, community foundations, and educational institutions in every U.S. state and beyond. For more information, please visit or call (212) 620-4230.

About The Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy
The Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy promotes more effective philanthropy and strengthens the nonprofit sector through research that informs philanthropic decision-making and public policy to advance public problem solving. Using California and the West as a laboratory, the Center conducts research on philanthropy, volunteerism, and the role of the nonprofit sector in America's communities. In order to make the research a catalyst for understanding and action, the Center encourages communication among the philanthropic, nonprofit, and policy communities. This is accomplished through a series of convenings and conversations around research findings and policy issues to help key decision makers work together more effectively to solve public problems and to identify strategies for action. The Center is part of the School of Policy, Planning, and Development at the University of Southern California. For more information, please visit or call (213) 740-9492.