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The International Journal
of Not-for-Profit Law

Volume 7, Issue 4, September 2005

A publication of the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law

Table of Contents

Letter from the Editor

The Middle East

NGO Laws in Selected Arab States
Kareem Elbayar

NGO Regulations in Iran
Negar Katirai

Arab Media: Tools of the Governments, Tools for the People?
United States Institute of Peace


A Comparative Analysis of European Policies and Practices of NGO-Government Cooperation
Nilda Bullain and Radost Toftisova

Assessing the Effects of Church and State on Organized Civil Society
Robert C. Lowry

Imagining Philanthropy: A Personal Commentary from a Part-Time Philanthropoid
Wilton S. Dillon


Generations of Giving: Leadership and Continuity in Family Foundation
By Kelin E. Gersick
Reviewed by Al Lyons

Democracy and Civil Society in Asia
Edited by Jayant Lele and Fahimul Quadir
Reviewed by Yuko Kawato

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Download this issue (PDF) | Editorial Board

Imagining Philanthropy: A Personal Commentary from a Part-Time Philanthropoid

By Wilton S. Dillon1

Everything is stuff to be given away and repaid. Marcel Mauss

In the great jungle of American democracy and capitalism, there is no more strange or improbable creature than the private foundation. – Waldemar A. Nielsen

Dr. Richard Gunderman’s masterpiece of an essay in the previous issue of the International Journal of Not-for-Profit Law, “Imagining Philanthropy,” implicitly reflects Hippocrates' admonition to “do no harm.”2 In this Non-Zen Western culture that favors opposites and dichotomies, Gunderman, the physician and philosopher of philanthropy, naturally favors the positive: doing good is better than “just” avoiding harm. He even goes so far as to mention love and caring.

Favoring philanthropic excellence, Gunderman poses six questions that evoke images of how philanthropy can enhance the lives of both givers and recipients. The opposite is poor philanthropic strategies that may impoverish human lives. I recommend readers to reexamine his questions as part of his whole ideal of philanthropy in our domestic and international life today. In view of our tax structure, I include voluntary non-profit organizations and foundations – both grant-making and operating – in my understanding of philanthropy. All of them are social inventions with a long history in world civilizations, granted the uniqueness of the American experience with tax exemption and tax deductibility, and our tradition of voluntary associations.

My commentary will touch on only a few of Gunderman’s questions, but they are all linked to a single principle: reciprocity, how people who give relate to those who receive. (Key words or links might include: quid pro quo, “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours,” leadership through leverage, getting a return on the investment, the multiplier effect, giving back, and attaching benign strings. Not explored here are American laws of conflict of interest and our suspicion that gifts, to some, may seem like bribes. Also ignored here are revenge and violence as forms of reciprocity.)3 If nothing else, these anecdotal, random responses should demonstrate that Gunderman has made me think and test some of his provocative questions. I offer them as my return gift to him. They do not presume to approach the wise personal narrative of Alan Pifer’s “Speaking Out—Reflections on Thirty Years of Foundation Work.”4

Some readers of this journal may recall Bill Landsberg’s extensive essay on my little book, Gifts and Nations: The Obligation to Give, Receive and Repay (Transaction, 2003).5 It is based on the gift exchange ideas of the French anthropologist, Marcel Mauss (1872-1950), nephew of the classic sociologist Emile Durkheim. It contains some resonance with Gunderman’s questions: “Does motive matter?” “Who benefits?” and “Do important aspects of philanthropy resist appraisal in dollars and cents?” In a new translation of Mauss’s Essai sur le don, Mary Douglas's foreword is entitled “No Free Gift,” and opens, “Charity is meant to be a free gift, a voluntary, unrequited surrender of resources.”6 She adds that foundations should not regard their contributions as gifts. Yet, my remarks will run the risk of reductionism by using gift exchange as a metaphor illuminating all kinds of transactions between persons engaged in philanthropy, real and imagined.

International Philanthropy

My book's case study of French reactions to the Marshall Plan during the Gaullist epoch revealed that some French industrialists thought they were being “killed by our generosity.” I was asked, “Why does the U.S. give away what we would call industrial secrets?” and paradoxically, “Why does the U.S. not confess to its self-interest?” Our confession of self-interest would have reduced French feelings of indebtedness to one of the giants between which they felt caught in the Cold War – America and the Soviet Union.

In return for massive transfers of money and technology to help rebuild France (and other European nations), the French resented what we implicitly wanted back: 1) gratitude, 2) permission to station troops, and 3) anti-communist votes. They were surprised by our indifference to what they had invented (DuPont’s chemistry, aspects of aviation and photography, etc.) We rarely asked questions that might help us, for we seemed much more comfortable in our latter-day donor-teacher role than as a pupil-recipient. Our inadequate sense of history produced amnesia over the French gift of our independence from Britain, e.g., the Battle of Yorktown, a form of strategic philanthropy. The French motives and strategy were to defeat their own enemy, the British, but they were happy to be seen as liberators, even if their expenditure eventually cost them their monarchy. (Many Americans today enjoy our self-image as liberators of Iraq and Afghanistan rather than occupiers intent on protecting oil and pipelines from future Chinese control.)

Again, to further extrapolate from the Franco-American case of asymmetry in gift exchange, I have found some Americans aware of their debts to the French industrialists for helping us to codify the idea of productivity. Our managers were less articulate than they liked when asked, “What are your first principles of productrivity?” The thousands of pages of Cartesian writing on what the French experienced here in the 1950s serve as an unwitting curriculum for future sharing of our technology and work ethic. To make our explanations more intelligible to themselves, the French went way beyond statistical definitions of units of work per man hour and incorporated their understanding of the Westward Movement of American history with John Dewey’s ideas of pragmatism to try to figure out what makes Americans tick. They became the Tocquevilles of the 20th century. The French capacity to combine deductive and inductive reasoning – abstract generalizing and illustrating with particulars – enriched our capacity to understand ourselves and explain our economy to others. Here was a French gift of intelligence based on perceptions of a philanthropic American culture – the benefits of discovering how others see us. Philanthropic excellence on our part would be to recognize that gift. European nations, especially France, found no way to discharge obligations they felt, and we did not ask for their help.

(The Germans helped us in 1972 by creating the German Marshall Fund aimed at strengthening transatlantic cooperation, a thank-you gift that keeps on giving. The GMF president, Craig Kennedy, is now addressing ways of reducing rampant anti-Americanism in Europe generated by the Iraq war and resistance to perceived American superpower hegemony.)

A more recent example, not of philanthropy per se but of unrequited reciprocity in international relations, can be found in a statement by President Assad of Syria. Reported by former U.S. Ambassador to Syria, Theodore Kattouf, Assad said, “ Syria is a state, not a charity.…When we give something, we expect something in return.” A seminar at the Nixon Center on “ Syria, Lebanon and U.S. Interests,” revealed a lack of clarity concerning possible bartering chips, if any, that the United States would be willing to offer Syria in exchange for carrying out a long list of policy changes. Syrians expected some relief in implied U.S. threats of “regime change” for having cooperated (however ineffectively) in trying to slow the stream of insurgents entering Iraq and sharing intelligence on other matters.7

I agree with Gunderman that philanthropic motives do matter. It is useful to know what lies behind the interplay of the giver and the receiver, whether in the context of international foreign aid, technical assistance, or the foundation officer and the grant supplicant. Both benefit if the partners in these exchanges recognize that each is doing the other a favor. In some religious traditions, the alms beggar is perceived as helping the donor by enhancing his spiritual growth. Intangible, unquantified gifts need to be a part of these exchanges; dollars and cents are not all that matter.

“Can we use taxes or shame to compel giving?” Gunderman asks. Tax-exemption is a powerful incentive. These provisions in tax laws indeed drive many to give and set up foundations. If you are a tax-exempt organization (501(c)(3) or other variations) in need of outside support, your status can serve as a way of attracting help. Tax deductibility is a useful swap. There should be no shame in participating in such trade-offs. Government makes such voluntarism possible. That is why I, having operated on both sides of the philanthropic community, as donor and supplicant, have been careful not to use the word private to refer to tax-exempt funds provided by non-government foundations or corporations.

As a petitioner for money for the Smithsonian’s international symposia programs, for which there was no institutional or congressional budgeting, I raised hundreds of thousands of dollars from foundations, individuals, and corporations to support integrating the sciences and humanities. Intensive courtship was required to produce multiple patrons for single programs. We published books about the experiment, giving much public attention to our donors, and often asking them to participate as moderators. Some felt public relations advantages for being associated with America’s proto-UNESCO, not known to many as also the progenitor of grant-making in the United States – e.g., financing Goddard’s rocketry. For our 1969 symposium, Man and Beast: Comparative Social Behavior, I was pleased that Aristotle Onassis sent a check from Olympic Airlines after I wrote him that we were asking questions first raised by the ancient Greeks and still in need of “answers.”8

We approached donors as a civic duty. I think donors can benefit by the opportunities one can offer them to be good stewards of public money. It would not be public without our tax laws. Such chutzpah on my part may not be universally appreciated by some foundation officers. I know some who become possessive of these public funds, and regard their grants as though they were their own money.

My inspiration for this proponent of reciprocity in philanthropy was Kenneth Boulding (1910-93), the late economist, peace advocate, and ethicist, a brilliant contributor to our 1983 Smithsonian symposium, How Humans Adapt: A Bio-cultural Odyssey.9 He told me that he was having trouble with a junior program officer of a major foundation who was advancing impossible-to-answer questions, surely in the interest of accountability. An outspoken English Quaker, Boulding chided him with this warning, “Young man, if you continue likes this, I just might wind up not asking anything from you at all.” Boulding regarded his proposal as a superb contribution to the public good. Petitioners for money have to be persuasive advocates with foundation officers who, equally, must judiciously allocate scarce resources, also for the public good.

The Smithsonian started out as a bequest of an English scientist and became one of the first American foundations, providing money for such historic technological advances as Goddard’s rocketry. Then, the tables were turned. We became increasingly dependent on Congressional appropriations and gifts, contracts, and donations as a tax-exempt, Congressionally chartered institution, like the Red Cross and National Academy of Sciences.

To help attract funds from foundations and corporations, I offered a gift in the form of a public forum in which philanthropists could perform a “show and tell.” The Internal Revenue Service, the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, the media, and a variety of grant-makers were invited as participants in a seminar series I organized, “Voluntarism and the Public Interest in American Society.” These dialogues in the Smithsonian castle, symbol of the country’s “intellectual free trade zone,” took place before the Council on Foundations, under early leadership of Landrum Bolling and Robert Goheen, became the force for philanthropy it is today. One practical result for the Smithsonian was a generous grant from the Kellogg Foundation to support greater educational uses of museums. We are the quintessential hybrid, reversing our roles, giving and receiving.

Margaret Mead (1901-1978), my mentor and friend for the last 30 years of her illustrious life, also combined the donor and recipient roles. She established her own foundation, the Institute for Intercultural Studies, with most of her earnings from books and lectures. When I was elected its president, Mead impressed me by her super-responsible adherence to every detail of the right and duty to earn tax exemption. We made small grants to young anthropologists doing fieldwork for their graduate studies. The money was often only a small part of her gifts of time and caring for the nurture of new generations. Her reward for the expenditures included monitoring the careers of those she helped, and often trying to place them in jobs where their talents could flourish. Mead was interested in “biological time,” counting in 25-year units, with an eye on the future.10

(That experience with making small grants to individuals helped me to give my support to a similar program as a trustee of the Cosmos Club Foundation. Graduate students at universities in Greater Washington annually seek stipends averaging $2,000 to support completion of research for their degrees. The idea was generated by Rita Colwell, a trustee who also headed the National Science Foundation. Our small grants program illustrates one point of Gunderman’s essay, “reliable measures of philanthropic need”: “when a deficiency is identified, the remedy is simple—we ‘top them up’ to the critical threshold.”)

A Model for Grantor-Grantee Cooperation

It was Margaret Mead who introduced me to the W.T. Grant Foundation and its executive secretary, Adele Morrison, who had become a foundation executive after serving as personal secretary to Mr. Grant himself. Mead regarded her as a true professional. Adele took a keep personal interest in the recipients of grants. My work as director of the Clearinghouse for Research in Human Organization, Society for Applied Anthropology, made me one of her “clients.” From her, I learned the importance of leadership of grant-makers. So eager was I to reciprocate, in appreciation for the Grant grants, that I quickly followed Adele’s suggestions to get in touch with other grantees whose research ought to be published in our journal about human interactions. Money, time and talent were conflated. Grantee “indebtedness” can be used creatively to “get more for the buck.” (Doing fieldwork in Paris in 1956 for Gifts and Nations, I was delighted to serve Adele a dinner, prepared by my bride, when she came to France on a vacation. Our reunion was not a site visit, but a genuine curiosity on her part about my inquiries into Marshall Plan philanthropy.)

Foundations as Sources of Knowledge

As a keen student of American culture and its institutions (see her 1942 wartime book And Keep Your Powder Dry), Mead was fascinated by the evolution of foundations, big and small.11 She often used the term social inventions to refer to organizations created to provide leadership in solving problems. When the Ford Foundation was new and operating out of its rented space at 477 Madison Avenue, Mead told one of its officers handling behavioral science grants that “Ford should learn to behave like the Rockefeller Foundation.” She used Rockefeller as a standard. Whether in agriculture or medicine or urban planning, its officers were sought out for their knowledge, regardless of whether it was coupled with a grant. I remembered that when, at the National Academy of Sciences, I sought out Dr. John McKelvey and Dr. John Weir to serve as members of the brain-trust I organized as the Africa Science Board to study land and water use in Africa.

Yet, I never had complaints about Ford, especially in 1958 when I was among guests at the Waldorf Astoria celebrating the first anniversary of the independence of Ghana. The late fine steward of public funds, Melvin J. Fox, approached me over a tray of oysters Rockefeller and congratulated me for becoming executive secretary of the Phelps-Stokes Fund. (We were founded in 1911 by Caroline Phelps Stokes to improve education of blacks in the United States and in Africa, among other charter mandates). “When were you last in Africa?” Mel asked me. “Never, I regret to say,” I replied.

Without bureaucratic niceties, Fox said that it was a scandal that I should start duties without fieldwork, and that I should be thinking about taking a six-week study mission to West Africa courtesy of Ford. He knew that we had limited cash resources, but reminded me that “Phelps-Stokes is a foundation’s foundation.” He knew of our two education missions to Africa in the early 1920's when the Phelps-Stokes Commissions recommended policies that were later incorporated in schooling in several British colonies. He was also aware that the South African Institute of Race Relations, inspired by the Southern Regional Council in Atlanta, grew out of a Phelps-Stokes initiative. He knew, too, that he Fund functioned vis-à-vis impoverished and homesick African students in the United States as a “home away from home.” Our vice president, Ida Wood, as a “den mother,” was engaged often in a version of psychiatric social work. Gunderman might find this an example of intangible resources exceeding the tangibles of money, and an illustration of genuine care. (He also distinguishes between payment and donation: “A payment implies no concern for the welfare of the person to whom it is given.”)

Margaret E. Mahoney represents a striking example of the foundation leader-executive who actively shows concern for the welfare of recipients and their potentials. Her presidential pastorals in annual reports of the Commonwealth Fund ought to be collected as inspirational literature, especially on the mutual benefits of mentoring. She continues her ministries today through her consulting group, MEM Associates.

Anson Phelps Stokes, Sr., canon of the Washington Cathedral and secretary of Yale, while serving as an earlier president of the Fund, often shared with the early Rockefellers the phrase, “working with, not for, people.” Eschewing “lordly benefactions” became a part of the ethos of early-20th-century philanthropy.

Another example of foundations as both caring and serving as a source of knowledge is the work of the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, in the way that (among many others) sponsors research. Reading its list of research grants and Ph.D. dissertation fellowships, I can't help but be impressed with Guggenheim as a smart contributor to the knowledge industry. Its recent symposium on the robust role of the military in superpower American life was a valuable contribution to our self-knowledge. Do intellectuals have any hope for influencing government policies, say, in coping with violence? The 2005 report of the foundation is a gift to the public at large to encourage an intelligent debate on how scholarship is communicated and used. This is a form of leadership beyond grant-making.

Kettering Foundation under David Mathews is a fountainhead of public education about civics. His inspiration to help citizens grow increasingly engaged and responsible is now more focused, with Kettering’s assets, than what he was able to accomplish as Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare in the Ford administration.

Foundation Partnerships

Two years after my Ford-financed visits to Liberia (a country whose flag was designed in the Phelps-Stokes family house in New York, as a project of the New York Colonization Society), Sierra Leone, Ghana and Nigeria, I found myself back in Africa with the help of another foundation. The Edward W. Hazen foundation, then of New Haven, was headed by the late Paul J. Braisted, former chaplain at the University of Rangoon, and a Quaker devoted to promoting “values in higher education.” Braisted proposed a partnership between Hazen and Phelps-Stokes to create a fellowship program to hasten the Africanization of African university faculties. Hazen would provide the money and we would use our history and staff to seek out intellectuals respectful of tradition and modernity for the process of nation building. Hazen also financed my work at the University of Ghana to gather life histories of African brainpower. All this predisposes me to write, again with reciprocity in mind, an article for The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, on “The Flow of Ideas between Africa and America.”12 (In reprint, the article is now being brought back to life as the United States, U.K., and other G-8 members focus on all kinds of aid to Africa.) Foundations can help foundations. Rockefeller and Ford teamed up to create several agricultural research stations in Africa. Carnegie Corporation teamed up internationally to increase attention to the existing and potential knowledge coming out of African universities, science academies and research institutions.

To dramatize the return gifts Africans can make in exchange for external philanthropy –from governments, the United Nations, or foundations – I organized in 1962 a banquet at the Roosevelt Hotel to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Phelps-Stokes Fund. Our president, the late Frederick Douglass Patterson, former president of Tuskegee and founder of the United Negro College Fund, turned the banquet into a kind of “donor conference.” In this case, African universities were to become donors – providing scholarships for American and other foreign students to study in Africa. Role reversal was the aim. A few scholarships were announced that night. One was a scholarship from a Veterinary Institute in Somalia offering American students of animal husbandry the opportunity to do research on the ovulation cycle of the camel, mainstay of the nomadic economy of the Horn of Africa. Peace Corps alumni were to become the most likely source of American students wishing to study in Africa.

Individual or Institutional Grants?

The debate within the Congress and the foundation community over grants to individuals versus grants to institutions or organizations happily is no longer as hot an issue as in the 1970s. (Historians of philanthropy in that period could take a refresher course by reading Waldemar Nielson’s 1972 book The Big Foundations, commissioned by the Twentieth Century Fund, especially his first chapter, “Philanthropy Under Fire.”13) My experience suggests that philanthropy should not be either/or, but both/and. Gunderman’s question about targets of philanthropy could be answered in part by realizing that investments in individuals, including free-lance independent scholars, can pay off for the public good.

I advocate a mixture of the two targets without taking any sides identified with conservative or liberal orientations of donors. I am aware that the conservative Philanthropic Roundtable describes its work as “motivated by the belief that philanthropy is most likely to succeed when it focuses not on grand social designs, but on individual achievement, and where it rewards not dependence, but personal initiative and self-reliance.”

The libertarian and other sources of disdain for big government can also be assuaged by imagining philanthropy that strengthens voluntary associations as a buffer between the state and the individual. Some conservatives, I am told, embrace Tocqueville’s fascination with 19th-century American voluntarism because non-government associations take on some of the functions of governance. (Democracy in America still endures as a baseline from which to evaluate, up or down, the condition of our society today.14)

During Congressional hearings on foundations in the 1960s, John D. Rockefeller III made a plea for continued tax inducements for private philanthropy. I applauded his arguments, having worked briefly for him as staff anthropologist of the Japan Society of which he was president in 1954. Representative John W. Byrnes, Wisconsin Republican, posed some challenging questions: “The real problem here … is that certain people have a chance as to how the tax aspects of their income is going to be spent…. The great vast army of the American people do not have this choice.… Should we permit a segment of our society to set up a government of its own to render philanthropic services?” (This exchange is reported in Nielson’s The Big Foundations.)

Responsible philanthropists, of course, must beware of cronyism and the suspicion that some grants may be made to further political aims that might violate rules of tax-exemption. Generations from now, the MacArthur “genius” grants may still be under evaluation. Measurements of success, however, should not be sought by counting intellectual or artistic outcomes of a single individual. I believe in taking responsible risks and putting some faith in the serendipitous ripple effects of one individual’s influencing another’s work and development. An investment in one person’s scientific work, film, poem, or painting may have detonating and unanticipated consequences.

Philanthropy as a Kula Ring?

In this age of violence, distrust, spin, disinformation, and trends toward centralized “command and control” wartime governance, philanthropy can serve as an important antidote to sheep-like civic behavior by encouraging greater critical thinking and cooperative behavior among the young and old—even at the risk of seeming uncooperative with different political administrations. Welcoming diversity of opinion is essential to protecting the democracy we are now militantly exporting abroad. Foundations need not violate their tax-exempt status by questioning authority and promoting civic engagement as distinct from lobbying. They can encourage, by example, love and generosity among our citizens; that is not the exclusive function of religious institutions.

Is it too old-fashioned to recycle John W. Gardner’s definition of “excellence as doing ordinary things extraordinarily well?”15 Gardner became a kind of high priest of moral authority as apostle of civic duty through his writings and founding of Common Cause, an extension of his leadership at the Carnegie Corporation.

The United States, lacking a Ministry of Culture, has the benefits of an equivalent ministry through the aggregate of our private foundations. Whether working independently of each other, or sometimes in concert, foundations give us multiple sources of leadership and initiative. With state-sanctioned semi-autonomy, they serve as vital buffers between the individual and the state. Buffering does not preclude working in tandem with the state to experiment with programs that may later be adopted by government. Again, reciprocity provides the dynamic for such collaboration.

We can also value the growing pluralism in our society, and citizens can enjoy the gifts of a wide variety of institutional arrangements. Foundations, religious bodies, universities, museums, think tanks, trade unions, and corporations are among the many sources of extra-governmental bodies useful in an open society. While some may claim that corporations are our real government, our country still has enough loose play to give us the freedom to navigate between the different centers of power and influence.

In the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, corporate social responsibility served as one of the timely themes of the National Conference on Citizenship on September 19, 2005, held in Washington, D.C. Jean Case of the Case Foundation chaired a lively panel that included William McDermott, President and CEO of SAP America, Inc., a major business software company, and Michelle Nunn, founding President and CEO of Hands On Network. Both were persuasive advocates of corporate citizenship based on voluntarism. Business leaders can energize the workforce and themselves to "give back to the community" with their pro bono expertise, thereby changing the civic landscape. Mentoring children was noted as one target of opportunity. Corporate citizens are rewarded by "feeling good" while realizing always that for-profit corporations are not designed to work for nothing.

What is unique about foundations as vehicles for philanthropy? It is worth looking again at the fruits of the experience of a former president of the Carnegie Corporation, which advertises itself on National Public Radio as devoted to “diffusion of knowledge and understanding.”

I refer to Alan Pifer, a carrier of the Andrew Carnegie promotion of self-reliance. Pifer was aware of the warning of the Senator who said, “You foundations had better be careful.” Some religious and other leaders are not reluctant to call people unpatriotic if they appear to dissent. The basic nature of foundations has allowed them to resist such intimidation. Foundations are a privileged institution, Pifer wrote, because they do not have to make a profit and do not have to spend time raising money to appeal to donors. As trustees appoint their own successors, foundations are the least constrained of all institutions in our society. They are both public and private. Their funds, he continues, are “a particularly precious resource to the society … constantly replenishable pools … that can be freely … deployed to meet existing or new social needs.” These national assets are so important that staff and trustees carry special responsibilities to be good stewards, managing money for the maximum benefit of society.”

This is a great opportunity for imagining philanthropy as an American version of the Kula ring. When they encounter each other on canoes,Trobriand Islanders of the South Pacific circulate armshells and necklaces in a clockwise and counter-clockwise pattern, so that everybody in the exchange of goods can alternate as donor and receiver. Bronislaw Malinowski (1884-1942), the ethnologist who described the Kula in his Argonauts of the Western Pacific, observed that the Kula articles were “ceremonial gifts” because their practical use was less important than their social use. It may take two to ten years for each Kula article to make the full circle of the islands.16 Foundation grants and intellectual services also may require a generation to be realized.

Circular giving may differ from reciprocal giving, but both forms of exchange provide metaphors for reciprocating foundations in the 21st century. To make the new American Kula work, citizens need to rethink civic duty and apply it to foundations' officials as though they were elected or appointed public servants. Citizen responsibility should include providing those I like to call philanthropoids with good ideas about how to share in these scarce assets so that the gifts “keep on giving and moving.” Wider participation in philanthropy strengthens both the modesty and the leadership potential of foundation officers and trustees. Gunderman reminds us that leaders avoid coercion and instead seek to inform and persuade. Giving, receiving, and repaying, therefore, become a seamless web in which philanthropy can contribute to a healthy society that respects both individuals and groups and tolerates their differences. And perhaps we might even learn to celebrate those differences.

Such differences and alternative channels can stimulate curiosity about seeking options to realize Gunderman’s Aristotelian goal: “By helping ourselves, we become empowered to lend a hand to others. Philanthropy should not foster dependency. It should foster giving, by encouraging recipients to become philanthropists in their own right.” Consider the Heifer International Project as one good model of the Kula idea at work, with one of its mottos “Turning a Recipient into a Donor.”


1 Wilton S. Dillon, Senior Scholar Emeritus at the Smithsonian Institution, is identified in Who’s Who in America as an anthropologist and foundation administrator. He has been practicing anthropology while serving as staff or trustee of 15 or more non-profit organizations and foundations. He is trustee emeritus of the Phelps-Stokes Fund of New York and Washington.

2The International Journal of Not-for-Profit Law (IJNL hereafter), vol. 7, issue 3, June 2005.

3 That point is developed in my two essays, “Anthropological Perspective on Violence,” in Usdin, Gene, ed., Perspective on Violence. Bruner/Mazel Publishers. New York, 1972; and “On Gifts and Violence,” in Adenira, T., and Alexander, Y., eds., International Violence. Praeger Publishers. New York, 1983.

4 See Foundation News and Commentary, July/August 1997.

5 IJNL, vol. 6, issue 4, September, 2004.

6 Mauss, Marcel, The Gift, translated by W.D. Halls. Foreword by Mary Douglas. W.W. Norton: New York and London, 1990.

7 See Program Brief, Nixon Center, Vol. 12, No. 3, Washington, D.C., July 21, 2005.

8 Eisenberg, J.F., and Dillon, Wilton S., eds. Man and Beast: Comparative Social Behavior. Smithsonian Press: Washington, D.C., 1971.

9 Ortner, Donald J., ed. Smithsonian Press, Washington, D.C., 1983.

10 See her posthumous book, The World Ahead: An Anthropologist Anticipates the Future. Berghahn Books: New York and Oxford, 2005.

11 Berghahn Books: New York and Oxford, 2003.

12 April 1966, vol. 22, no. 4, pp. 223-36.

13 Nielsen, Waldemar A. Columbia University Press: London and New York, 1972.

14 In Berkeley in 1950, I enjoyed lectures by Robert Nisbet on the sociology of power, using as a text Bertrand de Jouvenel’s On Power.Given the revival of interest now in Lord Acton’s reminder that power corrupts, I welcome also the parallel revival and accessibility of Baron de Jouvenel’s ideas in The Nature of Politics: Selected Essays by Betrand de Jouvenel. Hale, Dennis, and Landy, Marc, eds., Transaction: New Brunswick, 1993.

15 See Gardner, John W., Excellence: Can We Be Equal and Excellent Too? Harper and Row: New York, 1961.

16 This classic was first published in 1922 by Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, as part of Studies in Economics and Political Science, and is often quoted in studies of reciprocity: e.g., Godelier, Maurice, The Enigma of the Gift. Scott, Nora, tr.: University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1999, and Hyde, Lewis, The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property: Vintage Books, New York, 1983. The Kula practice is often contrasted with the Potlatch ceremony of the Kwakiutl Indians of British Columbia, whose clan chiefs rival each other to see who can give away the most goods. Flaunting their wealth insures high status while humiliating the less fortunate.


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