Brad Fulton, an associate professor at the Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, has been awarded a $50,000 grant from Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement to conduct research on faith-based and secular foundations.
The award, which is shared with Allison Ralph at the Aspen Institute Religion and Society Program, provides funding for their Faith in Philanthropy project that analyzes Form 990 data to examine both public and private foundations, differentiate between faith-based and secular foundations, and compare their characteristics. The public foundation portion of the study found that 24 percent of all public charities operate as foundations, and 17 percent of those foundations are faith-based.
“These findings provide the first-ever estimates for the field of public foundations,” Fulton said. “Based on our analyses and calculations using data from the nonprofit sector, we found that roughly 52,000 of the approximately 300,000 public foundations are faith-based and they contributed at least $8 billion to charitable causes in 2015.”
The project additionally examined faith-based and secular public foundations and compared their demographics, government funding, and grant distributions, including the location to which the grants were distributed.
“This project enables us to better understand the similarities and differences between faith-based and secular foundations,” Fulton said. “It further helps us understand the scale and impact of faith-based foundations, and it showcases the influence religion has on philanthropy. This new grant will enable us to examine private foundations in the same light and build an important data set to help us understand the differences in how public and private foundations operate.”