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Coins flowing through test tubes

Although we can envision many ways that the scientific enterprise might evolve in the future, an often-overlooked component will surely play an essential role: science philanthropy. By this we mean the provision of charitable giving for science or technology research by individual donors or foundations. As Robert Conn, past president and chief executive officer of The Kavli Foundation, details in his overview of the emergence of philanthropic giving for research, science philanthropy has always played a critical and leading role in America’s approach to research and development, with a history that predates much of the federal funding apparatus.

Today, the landscape of science philanthropy is rapidly changing. It consists of both established and newer foundations, a constellation of institutions including organizations with an illustrious history of giving for research as well as entities created more recently. Collectively, science philanthropy accounts for at least $2 billion in annual support for research. If we include spending from university endowments that supports research at those institutions, the total impact of philanthropy on science is estimated to be as much as $20 billion per... see more