The Many Ways of Philanthropy
Despite their regular appearance in the news and underwriting announcements, foundations remain mysterious to most Americans. According to the Philanthropy Awareness Initiative, fewer than half of civically engaged Americans can name any foundation on their first try, and a mere 15 percent can cite examples of a foundation's impact on their community. The task is complicated by the fact that America's foundations play so many roles. In addition to making grants to nonprofit organizations, they conduct research; create new fields of inquiry; and underwrite the creation of institutions. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has played all of these roles in its forty-plus years of existence. This month, our newsletter revisits examples of past work to shine a light on some of the many activities of foundations. In an accompanying interview, Walter Hewlett, chairman of the Hewlett Foundation Board and one of its three founding directors, discusses its evolution and how he sees its role in society.
Noteworthy Moments in Grantmaking
at the Hewlett Foundation
This newsletter issue spotlights some of the many achievements and milestones of the Hewlett Foundation over its forty-plus-year history. To read more about each of the grantmaking events listed below, please click here
- Saving the Great Bear Rainforest
- Restoration of a Wetlands Ecosystem
- ClimateWorks Pursues Sound Economics To Reduce Carbon Emissions
- Giving to Stanford University and The University of California, Berkeley
- Supporting the Study and Practice of Conflict Resolution
- Hewlett Grantmaking Launches Open Educational Resources
- Hewlett and Partners Support Think Tanks in the Developing World
"Foundations" - A Q&A with Walter Hewlett
Walter Hewlett is the son of William and Flora Hewlett. He has served as a director of the Foundation since its founding in 1966 and as the chairman of its Board since 1994. He is on several other boards of directors, including Vermont Telephone Company; the Packard Humanities Institute; and the Public Policy Institute of California. He served on the board of directors of the Hewlett-Packard Company from 1987 to 2002, and of Agilent Technologies from 1999 to 2006.
The Hewlett Foundation is nearly forty-five years old. What were your parents thinking in 1966 when they established the Foundation?
My parents realized that the Hewlett-Packard Company was on track to become a very large and successful company, and that their ownership in the company would become quite valuable. They did not want their children to inherit a lot of money, because they believed that having too much money could alter lives so radically as to ruin them. They also were egalitarians. While the Hewletts made a lot of money in Hewlett-Packard stock, they realized the real work was done by the employees of Hewlett-Packard. It's a quirk of our system that some people get super-rich starting a company, whereas the work and creativity are contributed by lots and lots of people. In a very fundamental way, my parents understood that and felt a responsibility to give back to society.
Philanthropy Awareness Initiative
The Philanthropy Awareness Initiative works with foundations and philanthropy associations to improve communications and outreach to influential Americans about the role these institutions play. It does this by tracking how influential leaders see them and sharing ways they can communicate their unique role in American society. The Initiative’s website, www.philanthropyawareness.org, is loaded with research, stories, and other tools designed to increase understanding so that philanthropy can be more successful.
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