A Comparative Analysis of Corporate and Independent Foundations

Justin Koushyar, Wesley Longhofer, Peter W. Roberts

Sociological Science, December 15, 2015
DOI 10.15195/v2.a28

Notwithstanding some visible debates, systematic evidence about the implications of greater corporate involvement in the social sector is sparse. We provide some of this evidence by examining one channel of corporate influence within the nonprofit sector–company sponsorship of philanthropic foundations. Our analysis shows that corporate foundations raise more funds and distribute grants with lower overhead than similar independent (i.e., non-corporate) foundations. However, their grantmaking is also more dispersed and less relational, and they tend to be governed by more ephemeral groups of officers and trustees. These findings suggest that corporate foundations benefit from having access to the resources of the companies that sponsor them but are constrained by their additional market-based motivations. The findings also update and refine what nonprofits might expect from corporate foundations relative to their more traditional independent counterparts.
Justin Koushyar: Goizueta Business School, Emory University  Email: justin.koushyar@emory.edu

Wesley Longhofer: Goizueta Business School, Emory University  Email: wesley.longhofer@emory.edu

Peter W. Roberts:  Goizueta Business School, Emory University  Email: peter.roberts@emory.edu

Acknowledgements: The authors thank Joe Galaskiewicz, Giacomo Negro, faculty at Georgia State University, and participants at the 2012 EGOS Colloquium, the 2013 Society for the Study of Social Problems Annual Meeting, the 2013 American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, the 2014 Alliance for Research on Corporate Sustainability Research Conference, and the 2014 Academy of Management Annual Meeting for their insightful feedback and suggestions.

  • Citation: Koushyar, Justin, Wesley Longhofer and Peter W. Roberts. 2015. “A Comparative Analysis of Corporate and Independent Foundations.” Sociological Science 2: 582-596.
  • Received: December 15, 2015.
  • Accepted: February 19, 2015.
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen, Sarah Soule
  • DOI: 10.15195/v2.a28

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