Current initiatives such as Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ have put the activities of foundations – self-governing, not for profit, public serving organisations – firmly in focus. Foundations are typically either grant-making, such as the Ford Foundation; operate their own programmes, such as Institut Pasteur; or a mixture of both, for example Robert Bosch Stiftung. Since the mid-1980s the number of foundations globaly has grown steadily due to rising demands for social and cultural services, and an increasing willingness from politicians to engage foundations in previously state-controlled areas such as social security and welfare.
Recent years, however, have presented challenges for the whole of the third sector. The financial crisis has meant considerably reduced income streams globaly. In addition to a drop off in government funding, corporations are cutting expenditure outside their value chains and cash- strapped households have less money and time to donate. Foundations need to rise to the challenge of changing economic times, taking advantage of the opportunities that arise from shifting of government structures and finding innovative ways to secure funding.
The Europa International Foundation Directory 2012 provides comprehensive and up-to-date information on this fast-changing sector. Updated annually, the Directory lists contact details, aims and activities, financial information, publications and principal staff for over 2,500 non-profit organizations. A series of timely essays by foundation experts ask pertinent questions. Is the current growth and expansion sustainable? What kinds of policy responses are appropriate for dealing with the current economic crisis?
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