Maximizing the Value of Philanthropic Efforts through Planned Partnerships between the U.S. Government and Private Foundations. Limitations

This study highlights many factors that may influence the feasibility and effectiveness of public-private collaboration. It is important, however, to acknowledge three limitations. First, while the cases include many prominent initiatives, they are not broadly representative of either USG or foundation activities in international or domestic philanthropy. Cases were chosen purposefully to provide both variation and comparability, particularly with respect to problems addressed and innovative strategies pursued. Second, while the study findings are informed by the review of many documents and the observations of key participants, we could not include all initiatives or interactions that might pertain to the focal organization of each case. Finally, comments on the possible effectiveness of the endeavors described herein are based mainly on the perspectives of participants, rather than the results of independent evaluations.



[1] 2006 is the most recent year for which data were available.
[2] For purposes of this report, we use the term philanthropy to refer both to foundation and USG spending on comparable health and social service programs. Where specific USG figures are cited, these exclude large health and social service entitlement programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. For an expanded discussion of what is treated as philanthropy, see Appendix C.
[3] This amount represents international spending in developing countries by U.S.-based foundations and USG; it excludes spending in other international regions, as well as spending by other types of nonprofit or philanthropic entities (for example, public charities or religious organizations).
[4] There is no single, authoritative source for data on philanthropic spending by the different sectors. The main sources for our analyses were: GivingUSA Foundation for broad private sector spending; the Foundation Center for all foundation spending; the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development for U.S. government spending on foreign aid; and the Federal Assistance Award Data System for federal domestic spending. For more detail on data sources and spending patterns, please see Appendix C.
[5] The proportion of foundation grants awarded domestically and the proportions dedicated to different program areas reflect proportions of the $14 billion in 2006 foundation grants that are included in the Foundation Center database. We estimate that these proportions hold for the entire $28 billion of grants awarded by all U.S. foundations. The discrepancy between the total grants ($28 billion) and the grants included in the database ($14 billion) results from the fact that the database includes only those grants awarded by the 800 largest U.S. foundations and the 15 largest from each state.
[6] Public and private data sources reference slightly different geographic regions, making direct comparisons somewhat difficult. For more information on data and analytic classifications, see Appendix C.

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