The role of foundations in American religion

Robert Wuthnow, D. Michael Lindsay

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations


Although American religion has been studied extensively, little attention has been paid to its financial underpinnings until recently, and even less has been devoted to understanding its relationships with foundations.1 Given the larger neglect of religion in sociological treatments of nonprofit organizations, it has been easy for scholars to assume that foundations and other centers of philanthropy were relevant to studies of higher education, the arts, health, welfare, and social advocacy but not to religion. This assumption is reinforced by summary statistics suggesting that religion is a relatively small part of total foundation giving and that foundation grants represent a small share of total revenue for religion. According to figures compiled by the Foundation Center, 3,498 foundation grants were given for religious purposes in 2003, amounting to $340 million-seemingly a sizable amount. However, these grants represented a mere 2.9 percent of all foundation grants and in dollar value constituted only 2.4 percent of total foundation giving. In the same year, giving to religion from all sources totaled $84.3 billion, meaning that the share from foundations amounted to only 5.1 percent. 2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAmerican Foundations
Subtitle of host publicationRoles and Contributions
PublisherBrookings Institution Press
Number of pages23
StatePublished - 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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