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Strategic Philanthropy in Foundations: The Board Members’ Perspective

Hybridity in the Governance and Delivery of Public Services

ISBN: 978-1-78743-770-8, eISBN: 978-1-78743-769-2

Publication date: 3 July 2018


Recent literature has investigated the composition, responsibilities and characteristics of non-profits’ boards, but there is a lack of research on the link between governance practices and preferences related to philanthropic strategy. This study integrates the strategic philanthropy literature with recent works in the area of governance to understand how organisations’ approach to governance can lead to different strategic approaches. The empirical section presents the results of a survey conducted among 144 decision makers (presidents, board members, managers) that belong to the largest Italian foundations. Using perceptual data, the exploratory results show significant associations between selected governance items (satisfaction of decision makers, usefulness of managerial reports, activism of board members) and the four pillars of strategic philanthropy.

The results of the study reveal where and when foundations’ decision makers believe that well-governed private foundations can act more effectively and efficiently than individual donors and poorly governed foundations can. Conclusions facilitate the formulation of guidelines and recommendations to professional players and regulators who are interested in enhancing the social value foundations can create.




The authors acknowledge the financial support of the University of Padova (Project No. CPDA158434).


Boesso, G. and Cerbioni, F. (2018), "Strategic Philanthropy in Foundations: The Board Members’ Perspective", Hybridity in the Governance and Delivery of Public Services (Studies in Public and Non-Profit Governance, Vol. 7), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 193-213.



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