Donors for democracy? Philanthropy and the challenges facing America in the twenty-first century


Journal Article

© 2018, Springer Nature Limited. After the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency, a self-defined “resistance” movement arose to block his agenda. This movement cut across the normal boundaries of political activism to create new forms of advocacy and new models of cooperation. Major components of the resistance were ideological interest groups, women’s organizations, environmentalists, heretofore disengaged Millennials, racial and ethnic groups, community nonprofits, and, ostensibly, foundations and leading philanthropists—those we term “patrons.” We systematically examine the behavior of patrons to determine what role they played at this unique time in American history. We place this research in the context of interest group behavior, asking how patrons may have facilitated representation, altered strategic plans, reoriented advocacy, and repositioned themselves within policy communities supporting similar goals. Our findings undermine the idea that patrons played a central role in the developing resistance to the new administration, despite the fact that the new president was working against their values and the programs they support. However, a non-trivial minority of patrons, both institutional and individual, did mobilize their voice, institutional resources, and coalitions to resist the Trump agenda. These examples allow us to explore how patrons in some conditions might fulfill the roles of interest groups conventionally understood.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Berry, JM; Goss, KA

Published Date

  • October 1, 2018

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 7 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 233 - 257

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2047-7422

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 2047-7414

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1057/s41309-018-0041-5

Citation Source

  • Scopus