Paper presented at the Forum on Philanthropy, Public Policy and the Economy, January 19-20, 2000.
Foundations are currently experiencing an unprecedented period of change. Historically, change in the foundation sector has been created from within or in response to legislative and regulatory changes. At the cusp of the 21st century, however, foundations face a barrage of simultaneous external forces that are redefining the world in which philanthropy operates. Never before in the history of the philanthropic sector has so much change taken place, at such a rapid pace, outside of the control of the foundations themselves. This paper presents the societal trends that are affecting philanthropy, analyzes the impact they are having on foundation programs and operations, and discusses ways that foundations might reinvent themselves to capitalize on the unique opportunities present in today's environment.