Theses Doctoral

The Disruption of Philanthropy in the San Francisco Bay Area

McElroy, Micah David

This dissertation studies the history of philanthropy in the San Francisco Bay Area between the 1940s to the 2010s through the experiences of the foundation managers, professors, and attorneys, who collectively oversaw the distribution of philanthropic wealth for the region’s donors. This dissertation argues that foundation managers and a range of other non-donor professionals were critical to the formation of organized philanthropy in the San Francisco Bay Area since the 1940s, which in limited but vital ways redistributed wealth to organizations that provided social welfare services.

In the austere decades of the late 20th century, however, philanthropic intermediaries created new models of giving that, in appealing to affluent people, narrowed the purpose and reach of foundations, while expanding the ability of donors to set conditions on their giving. In tandem with larger political and economic changes, the disruption of philanthropy in the San Francisco Bay Area—the creation of donor-centric modes of giving that appealed to the norms of high-tech and financial moguls—helped produce a local nonprofit sector more reflective of the interests of wealthy donors rather than those in need.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Blackmar, Elizabeth S.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 2, 2021