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By Helmut K. Anheier, Diana Leat

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Sample text

Indeed, foundations appear to be C re at i ve p h i l a n t h ro py 43 generally more comfortable with the notion of generating new ideas than with that of getting them implemented and accepted on any scale, with all that that entails. As we have suggested above, and will elaborate on later, foundations seem to prefer to run relay races, handing over the baton to someone else (who may or may not be in place and ready). The distinction between creativity and innovation is useful because it enables us to ask questions about creative ideas that fail to become accepted and implemented, that is, they fail to become innovations.

An example of a foundation successfully doing this is the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s publication of widely disseminated but carefully targeted short Findings for each of its key projects. As part of a wider communication strategy to stimulate government and media debate, these significantly increased the level of attention to its work. Failure to Relate to Policy Although foundations sometimes (wrongly, in our opinion) cite legal restrictions as the reason for avoidance of involvement in policy issues, another reason may be lack of any realistic theory of social change.

24 Mo de ls o f p hi l a nt hr o py i n c o nt ex t Mainstream foundations have typically seen their lack of pre-defined focus as a virtue, demonstrating their democracy and responsiveness. But, ‘whilst some might argue that this ‘let 1,000 flowers bloom’ approach is inherently democratic, normal and typically American, I suggest it is autocratic, ineffective and willful – and typically American’ (Skloot 2001: 3). There is a view that foundations fail to be fully effective because they are overly prescriptive about the work they fund, closing down debate over the definition and nature of problems too early.

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