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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Tax-exempt foundations and their influence within society Kapchinsky, Ryan James


The purpose of this paper is to outline the history and character of the prominent tax-exempt foundations in the United States, with a particular emphasis on their use by the Rockefeller family to expand both their economic power, and their political influence within society. Furthermore, the paper outlines the motivations for providing philanthropy, the benefits of having tax-exempt foundations, as well as their involvement within education and the funding of the media. This paper also examines the multiple connections between the foundations and certain policy-making institutions. The conclusion of this paper is that certain large tax-exempt foundations such as the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the Bertelsmann Foundation exercise significant political influence within society. Their vast ownership of multiple financial institutions, natural resource companies, media outlets, newspapers, and broadcasting companies has given them immense economic power. Moreover, the multifaceted roles played by the foundation trustees, who are often directors and chairmen of various private policy-making institutions has enabled the trustees of these foundations to exercise a great degree of political influence on the development of policy initiatives that are often implemented by the federal government.

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