From its studies on new philanthropists and California foundations to its analysis of foundation strategies for public policy engagement, The Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy conducts research that is powerful, rigorous, relevant, and accessible to a wide range of constituencies.

Changing Landscape of Philanthropy

Philanthropy is occurring at a greater scale, faster pace, and in more complex forms than ever before. The Center examines the motivations and strategies for philanthropic behavior; new forms of philanthropic activity and structures (e.g., donor advised funds, giving circles, social venture partners); and the impact of these trends on the capacity of philanthropy, nonprofits, and the community.

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Philanthropic Strategies for
Public Problem Solving

Individual donors and philanthropic institutions are becoming more strategic in their efforts, working to leverage their assets – dollars, knowledge and networks – to achieve greater results. The Center studies the structures, networks and strategies that enable philanthropy to extend its impact and solve public problems.

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Philanthropic Leadership
and Stewardship

The Center examines issues of accountability and stewardship in the philanthropic sector, including governance issues for philanthropic organizations to honor donor intent and ensure greater accountability. We also study public policies that influence philanthropic behavior and decision-making, including tax, regulatory and public spending policies.

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Research Projects

The Center undertakes commissioned research projects with support from the funding community to explore issues of mutual interest. These projects provide an opportunity for The Center and its scholars to examine and weigh in on specific issues and approaches with objective, field-based research and statistical analysis.

Drawing on Detroit (in progress) 
The Center on Philanthropy & Public Policy

A Scan of Foundation Grantmaking in Greater Los Angeles, 2014 (report) 
Funded by the Weingart Foundation.
Principal Investigators: James M. Ferris and Nicholas P.O. Williams, USC Price School of Public Policy; 2013-14.

Foundations for Los Angeles, 2007 (report) 
Funded by The Ahmanson Foundation, California Community Foundation, The California Endowment, The California Wellness Foundation and Weingart Foundation.
Principal Investigator: James M. Ferris, USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development; 2009-10.

Foundations for Los Angeles, 2007 (highlight) 
Funded by The Ahmanson Foundation, California Community Foundation, The California Endowment, The California Wellness Foundation and Weingart Foundation.
Principal Investigator: James M. Ferris, USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development; 2009-10.

Foundations for Los Angeles 2009 Survey Brief (paper) 
Funded by The Ahmanson Foundation, California Community Foundation, The California Endowment, The California Wellness Foundation and Weingart Foundation.
Principal Investigator: James M. Ferris, USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development; 2009-10.

Foundations for Los Angeles 2010 Survey Brief (paper) 
Funded by The Ahmanson Foundation, California Community Foundation, The California Endowment, The California Wellness Foundation and Weingart Foundation.
Principal Investigator: James M. Ferris, USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development; 2009-10.

Foundation Support for Nonprofit Capital Needs in Southern California (report) 
Funded by The Ahmanson Foundation and Weingart Foundation.
Principal Investigator: James M. Ferris, USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development; 2007.

Health Philanthropy and Foundation Policy Efforts
2009 Foundation Practices for Policy Engagement Paper

Funded by The California Endowment.
Principal Investigator: James M. Ferris, USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development; 2006-07.

Health Philanthropy and Foundation Policy Efforts
2009 Systems Change Paper

Funded by The California Endowment.
Principal Investigator: James M. Ferris, USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development; 2006-07.

California Foundations: 2004 (report) 
Funded by The California Endowment, the James Irvine Foundation, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.
Principal Investigators: James M. Ferris and Elizabeth Graddy, USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development; 2005-06.

California Foundations: 2004 (highlights) 
Funded by The California Endowment, the James Irvine Foundation, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.
Principal Investigators: James M. Ferris and Elizabeth Graddy, USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development; 2005-06.

Philanthropic Activity in California’s Central Valley (report) 
Funded by The James Irvine Foundation.
Principal Investigators: James M. Ferris and Elizabeth Graddy, USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development; 2002-04.

Foundations and the Public Policymaking Process (report) 
Funded by The David and Lucile Packard Foundation.
Principal Investigator: James M. Ferris, USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development; 2001-03.

Foundations and the Public Policymaking Process (highlights) 
Funded by The David and Lucile Packard Foundation.
Principal Investigator: James M. Ferris, USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development; 2001-03.

Philanthropy and Social Capital in Los Angeles (report) 
Funded in part by the California Community Foundation (CCF), and The John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation.
Principal Investigators: Eleanor Brown, Pomona College, and James M. Ferris, USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development; 2001-02.

Philanthropy and Social Capital in Los Angeles (highlights) 
Funded in part by the California Community Foundation (CCF), and The John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation.
Principal Investigators: Eleanor Brown, Pomona College, and James M. Ferris, USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development; 2001-02.

Social Capital in Los Angeles: Findings from the Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey
Funded in part by the California Community Foundation (CCF), and The John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation.
Principal Investigators: Eleanor Brown, Pomona College, and James M. Ferris, USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development; 2001-02.

Intersectoral Strategies for Urban Problem Solving
Funded by the USC Urban Initiative.
Principal Investigators: James M. Ferris and Elizabeth Graddy, USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development; John Mutlow, USC School of Architecture; Rino Patti, USC School of Social Work; and Penny Wohlstetter, USC School of Education; 2000-02.

California Foundations: 2000-2001 Update 
Funded by The James Irvine Foundation.
Principal Investigator: James M. Ferris; Principal Consultants: Marcia Sharp, Millennium Communications Group; Elizabeth Graddy, USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development; 2000-02.

An Atlas of Foundation Philanthropy in California, 1999
Funded by The James Irvine Foundation.
Principal Investigator: James M. Ferris; Principal Consultants: Marcia Sharp, Millennium Communications Group; Elizabeth Graddy, USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development; 2000-02.

California Foundations: Trends and Patterns
Funded by The James Irvine Foundation.
Principal Investigator: James M. Ferris; Principal Consultants: Marcia Sharp, Millennium Communications Group; Elizabeth Graddy, USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development; 2000-02.

California Foundations 1998: A Statistical Profile
Funded by The James Irvine Foundation.
Principal Investigator: James M. Ferris; Principal Consultants: Marcia Sharp, Millennium Communications Group; Elizabeth Graddy, USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development; 2000-02.

California Foundations: A Snapshot 
Funded by The James Irvine Foundation.
Principal Investigator: James M. Ferris; Principal Consultants: Marcia Sharp, Millennium Communications Group; Elizabeth Graddy, USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development; 2000-02.

Healthcare Philanthropy in California: Assessing the Landscape of Health Grantmaking (report) 
Funded by The California Endowment.
Principal Investigators: James M. Ferris and Elizabeth Graddy, USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development; Principal Consultant, Lucy Bernholz, Blueprint Research & Design; 2000.

Healthcare Philanthropy in California: Assessing the Landscape of Health Grantmaking (highlights) 
Funded by The California Endowment.
Principal Investigators: James M. Ferris and Elizabeth Graddy, USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development; Principal Consultant, Lucy Bernholz, Blueprint Research & Design; 2000.

Out from the Underground? Foundation Support for Nonprofit Social Movement Activity
Principal Investigator: David F Suarez, USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development; 2009-10.

The Uses of Evaluation by Foundations (Paper) 
Principal Investigator: Howard Greenwald, Ph.D., USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development; 2008-09.

The Current State of Nonprofit Sector Research: An Analysis of the Leading Journals
Principal Investigators: James M. Ferris, Ph.D., Elizabeth Graddy, Ph.D., USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development; 2008-09.

Becoming A Venture Philanthropist: A Study of the Socialization of Social Venture Partners
Principal Investigator: Michael Moody, Ph.D., USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development; 2007-08.

Community Foundation Development and Social Capital (Paper) 
Principal Investigator: Elizabeth Graddy, Ph.D., USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development; 2006-07.

The Construction and Evolution of Venture Philanthropy: Evidence from Proponents and Practitioners (Paper) 
Principal Investigator: Michael Moody, USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development; 2006-07.

Why Do Nonprofits Merge? (Paper) 
Principal Investigators: James M. Ferris and Elizabeth Graddy, USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development; 2006-07.

Volunteer Behavior among Asian and Hispanic Groups in the US (Paper) 
Principal Investigator: Richard Sundeen, Ph.D., USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development; 2004-07.

Place-based, Collaborative Land Conservation in California: What Roles for Foundations?
Principal Investigator: Shui-Yan Tang, Ph.D., USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development; 2003-07.

Foundations for Los Angeles? An Analysis of the Scale, Scope and Reach of Foundation Philanthropy in Los Angeles County (Report) 
Principal Investigator: James M. Ferris, USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development; 2004-05.

Foundations for Los Angeles? An Analysis of the Scale, Scope and Reach of Foundation Philanthropy in Los Angeles County (Highlights) 
Principal Investigator: James M. Ferris, USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development; 2004-05.

Philanthropic Strategies for School Reform: An Analysis of Foundation Choice in Education Policy (Paper) 
Principal Investigators: Guilbert C. Hentschke, USC Rossier School of Education, and James M. Ferris, USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development; 2004-05.

Strategic Philanthropy, Land Conservation Governance, and the Packard Foundation’s Conserving California Landscape Initiative (Paper) 
Principal Investigators: Shui-Yan Tang and F.G. Delfin, Jr., USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development; 2003-04.

Community Foundations, Organizational Strategy, and Public Policy (Paper) 
Principal Investigators: Elizabeth A. Graddy and Donald Morgan, USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development; 2003-04.

The Construction and Evolution of Venture Philanthropy: Evidence from Proponents and Practitioners (Paper) 
Principal Investigator: Michael Moody, USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development; 2003-04.

Philanthropic Strategies for School Reform: An Analysis of Foundation Choice in Education Policy (Paper) 
Principal Investigators: Guilbert C. Hentschke, USC Rossier School of Education, and James M. Ferris, USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development; 2004-05.

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All Research Reports and Papers

The Center’s most substantial research reports and papers – across all areas of research and study – are listed below in chronological order.

Philanthropic Activity in California’s Central Valley: 1996-2002 
August 2004
James M. Ferris and Elizabeth Graddy

Foundations and Public Policymaking 
August 2003
James M. Ferris

Philanthropy and Social Capital in Los Angeles 
March 2003
James M. Ferris and Eleanor Brown

California Foundations: Trends and Patterns
January 2002
James M. Ferris and Marcia Sharp

Health Philanthropy: The Changing Landscape 
September 2001
James M. Ferris and Elizabeth Graddy

Volunteer Behavior among Asian American Groups in the United States 
RP-29, July 2007
Richard A. Sundeen, Cristina Garcia, and Lili Wang

Why Do Nonprofits Merge? 
RP-28, May 2007
James M. Ferris and Elizabeth A. Graddy

Community Foundation Development and Social Capital 
RP-27, February 2007
Elizabeth A. Graddy and Lili Wang

Philanthropic Strategies for School Reform: An Analysis of Foundation Choices in Education Policy 
RP-25, February 2006
James M. Ferris, Gilbert C. Hentschke, and Hilary A. Joy

Community Foundations, Organizational Strategy, and Public Policy 
RP-23, March 2005
Elizabeth A. Graddy and Donald Morgan

The Nonprofit Sector and the Press: Coverage of Philanthropy and Nonprofits in Nine Major Newspapers 
RP-22, February 2005
Matthew Hale, Anthony Colgan, Michael Day and Alexander McDonald

Social Capital and Philanthropy 
RP-20, July 2004
Eleanor Brown and James M. Ferris

California Foundations: 2000-2001 Update 
RP-19, December 2003
James M. Ferris

Foundation Engagement in Education Policymaking: Assessing Philanthropic Support of School Choice Initiatives (to access, purchase book)
RP-18, August 2003
Michael Mintrom and Sandra Vergari

This paper has been updated and is available as a chapter in Foundations and Public Policy: Leveraging Philanthropic Dollars, Knowledge, and Networks for Greater Impact, edited by James M. Ferris, director of The Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy.

Foundations, Public Policy and Child Care (to access, purchase book)
RP-17, August 2003
Jack H. Knott and Diane McCarthy

This paper has been updated and is available as a chapter in Foundations and Public Policy: Leveraging Philanthropic Dollars, Knowledge, and Networks for Greater Impact, edited by James M. Ferris, director of The Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy.

Looking for High Leverage: The Changing Context of Foundation Engagement in Wetlands and Habitat Protection (to access purchase book)
RP-16, August 2003
Walter A Rosenbaum

This paper has been updated and is available as a chapter in Foundations and Public Policy: Leveraging Philanthropic Dollars, Knowledge, and Networks for Greater Impact, edited by James M. Ferris, director of The Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy.

The Role of Foundations in Shaping Health Policy: Lessons from Efforts to Expand and Preserve Health Insurance Coverage (to access, purchase book)
RP-15, August 2003
Thomas R. Oliver and Jason Gerson

This paper has been updated and is available as a chapter in Foundations and Public Policy: Leveraging Philanthropic Dollars, Knowledge, and Networks for Greater Impact, edited by James M. Ferris, director of The Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy.

Critical Junctures: Philanthropic Associations as Policy Actors (to access, purchase book)
RP-13, May 2002
Lucy Bernholz

This paper has been updated and is available as a chapter in Foundations and Public Policy: Leveraging Philanthropic Dollars, Knowledge, and Networks for Greater Impact, edited by James M. Ferris, director of The Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy.

Private Foundations and Policymaking: Latitude Under Federal Tax Law  (to access, purchase book)
RP-12, May 2002
Thomas Troyer and Douglas Varley

This paper has been updated and is available as a chapter in Foundations and Public Policy: Leveraging Philanthropic Dollars, Knowledge, and Networks for Greater Impact, edited by James M. Ferris, director of The Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy.

Foundations and Public Policymaking: A Historical Perspective (to access, purchase book)
RP-11, May 2002
James Allen Smith

This paper has been updated and is available as a chapter in Foundations and Public Policy: Leveraging Philanthropic Dollars, Knowledge, and Networks for Greater Impact, edited by James M. Ferris, director of The Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy.

Foundations and Public Policymaking: A Conceptual Framework (to access, purchase book)
RP-10, May 2002
James M. Ferris and Michael Mintrom

This paper has been updated and is available as a chapter in Foundations and Public Policy: Leveraging Philanthropic Dollars, Knowledge, and Networks for Greater Impact, edited by James M. Ferris, director of The Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy.

An Atlas of Foundation Philanthropy in California, 1999 
RP-9, January 2002
James M. Ferris and Elizabeth Graddy

California Foundations 1998: A Statistical Profile 
RP-7, February 2001
James M. Ferris and Marcia Sharp

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Research Seminars

Individuals present their ongoing research at seminars held on a periodic basis. These seminars are targeted to the academic and research communities. This seminar series, in addition to being a vehicle to discuss research findings, is important to stimulate faculty research interest in philanthropy and the nonprofit sector at USC and other local research institutions.

The Urban Geography of Giving in Los Angeles
Nicolas Duquette
Assistant Professor
Sol Price School of Public Policy
University of Southern California
April 25, 2016

Finding Excuses to Decline the Ask
Christine L. Exley
Assistant Professor of Business Administration
Harvard School of Business
Harvard University
April 11, 2016

Giving in the Context of One’s Neighbors – The Role of Community Composition & Income Inequality
A. Abigail Payne
Professor, Department of Economics
Director, Public Economics Data Analysis Laboratory
Director, MacDATA Institute
McCaster University
March 28, 2016

Scaffolding: A Process of Transforming Patterns of Inequality in Rural Communities
Johanna Mair
Professor, Organization, Management, and Leadership
Hertie School of Governance
Visiting Scholar at the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society
Academic Editor, Stanford Social Innovation Review
January 26, 2016

Pay It Forward? Law and the Problem of Restricted-Spending Philanthropy
Brian Galle
Professor of Law
Georgetown University Law Center
Georgetown University
January 14, 2016

Nonprofits as Third-Party Business Lobbyists: How “Astroturf” Campaigns Affect Public Trust 
Edward T. Walker
Associate Professor and Vice Chair
Department of Sociology
University of California, Los Angeles
April 13, 2015

The Blurring Hypothesis Reconsidered: How Sector Still Matters to Practitioners
Curtis Child
Assistant Professor
Department of Sociology
Brigham Young University
March 23, 2015

Collective Action and the Sustainability of Co-production 
Victor Pestoff
Professor
Institute for Civil Society Studies
Ersta Skondal University College; Stockholm, Sweden
February 9, 2015

Network Effect on Funding Behavior of Grant-making Foundations 
Nicole Esparza
Assistant Professor
Sol Price School of Public Policy
University of Southern California
January 26, 2015

The Race for a Cure: Collaborators or Competitors? Modeling the Effects of Competition in Disease-Specific Charities 
Alexandra Graddy-Reed
Ph.D. Candidate
Department of Public Policy
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
December 9, 2014

Bridging and Bonding: How Social Diversity Influences Organizational Performance 
Brad Fulton
Ph.D. Candidate
Department of Sociology
Duke University
December 8, 2014

Collective Reputations Affect Donations to Nonprofits: Implications for Governance and Management 
Matthew Potoski
Professor, Corporate Environmental Management
Bren School of Environmental Science and Management
University of California, Santa Barbara
November 25, 2014

Effects of Nonprofit Competition on Charitable Donations 
Bijetri Bose
Ph.D. Candidate
Department of Economics
University of Washington
November 12, 2014

Civil Society and Philanthropy in Mexico: Understanding the Enabling Environment and its Constraints 
Michael Layton
Director, Proyecto sobre Filantropía y Sociedad Civil
Departamento de Estudios Internacionales
Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM)
September 29, 2014

Bridging and Bonding: Mechanisms Influencing Organizational Effectiveness 
Brad Fulton
Ph.D. Candidate
Sociology Department
Duke University
March 3, 2014

Solution Diversity and Social Entrepreneurship 
Sunasir Dutta
Ph.D. Candidate
Graduate School of Business, Stanford University
December 2, 2013

Do Tax Incentives Affect Charitable Contributions? Evidence from Public Charities’ Reported Revenues 
Nicolas Duquette
Ph.D. Candidate
Department of Economics, University of Michigan
November 5, 2013

Doing Good When Times Are Bad: Volunteering Behavior In Economic Hard Times 
Chaeyoon Lim
Assistant Professor
Department of Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
October 28, 2013

New American Relief and Development Organizations: Voluntarizing Global Aid 
Allison Schnable
Ph.D. Candidate
Sociology Department, Princeton University
October 2, 2013

Winning the Sprint, Losing the Marathon: Philanthropy’s Race for Education Reform 
Sarah Reckhow
Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science
Michigan State University
September 16, 2013

The Diversity and Stability of Social Enterprise Forms 
Dennis Young
Professor
Department of Public Management and Policy
Georgia State University
March 25, 2013

Wallflowers Doing Good: Field and Lab Evidence of Heterogeneity in Reputation Concerns 
Sera Linardi
Assistant Professor
Graduate School of Public and International Affairs
University of Pittsburgh
February 11, 2013

Measuring Performance in the Social Sector: Essential or Impossible? 
Alnoor Ebrahim
Associate Professor of Business Administration
Harvard Business School
February 4, 2013

The Bigger, The Better? Niche Width, Audience Type, and Resource Acquisition in the Nonprofit Sector
Emily Barman
Associate Professor
Department of Sociology
Boston University
December 10, 2012

The Role of Organizational Resources in Explaining Urban Inequality 
Joe Galaskiewicz
Professor of Sociology
The University of Arizona
November 5, 2012

Nonprofits and Voter Mobilization in the U.S. 
Kelly Leroux
Assistant Professor
Department of Public Administration
University of Illinois at Chicago
October 8, 2012

Strategic Capacity Building: Theory, Method, and the Case of Faith-Based Initiatives 
Dyana P. Mason
Ph.D. Student
USC Sol Price School of Public Policy
September 10, 2012

Putting Giving into Context: Examining the Effects of Religiosity, Trust, and World Society on Charitable Activity in 35 Countries
Wes Longhofer
Assistant Professor of Organization and Management
Goizueta Business School
Emory University
April 23, 2012

Contracting Out Social Provision: Nonprofit Organizations, Neighborhoods, and the Competition for Public Resources 
Nicole Marwell
Associate Professor of Public Affairs and Sociology
Baruch College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York
March 26, 2012

Creating Catalysts: A Report on Black Philanthropy for Social Change 
Ange-Marie Hancock
Associate Professor of Political Science and Gender Studies
Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
University of Southern California
February 27, 2012

The Impact of Community Input on Grantee Selection: An Analysis of Participatory Philanthropy 
Jasmine McGinness
Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Public Management and Policy
Andrew Young School of Policy Studies
Georgia State University
January 23, 2012