PORTRAIT OF THE AMERICAN DOLLAR EVERYBODY LOVES

ROBERT FULFORD July 4 1964

PORTRAIT OF THE AMERICAN DOLLAR EVERYBODY LOVES

ROBERT FULFORD July 4 1964

PORTRAIT OF THE AMERICAN DOLLAR EVERYBODY LOVES

This is the dollar the great American foundations give away by the millions —in Canada, at least $50 million during the last 50 years. This is a report on the ideas the good American dollar has planted in Canada and why we’ll soon have to learn to grow our own

ROBERT FULFORD

IN RECENT YEARS more than a few Canadians have felt called upon to protest the import into Canada of American ideas they dislike, particularly the ideas conveyed by American mass culture. But at least one American idea has done Canada nothing but good, and promises lo do nothing but good in the future. This is the very special notion that lies behind the most carefully organized and most spectacu-

larly generous American philanthropy of the twentieth century, the idea of imaginative and fertile charity. It could be called The National Foundation Idea. It began with Andrew Carnegie, it was adopted by the men employed to give away John D. Rockefeller’s millions, and in recent years it has heen elaborated and extended by the Ford Foundation. It is still alien to Canada — still a strictly American viewpoint — but it plays a sometimes crucial role in Canadian life.

In 1951 even the Massey Report, a document generally hostile to American influences, noted that, although Hollywood might try to refashion us in its own image, “The urbane influences of Carnegie and Rockefeller have helped us to he ourselves.” In 1964 the urbane influences of Carnegie and Rockefeller are slowly fading from the Canadian scene, to be replaced in some ways by Ford, yet most Canadians not directly involved with them still have little idea of what the American foundations have done here in the past and what they expect to do in the future.

In 1901 Andrew Carnegie, the rich Scottish-American steel man who believed it his duty to give his money away, sent $425,915 into Canada to pay for new library buildings in seven cities. The event was important in itself — several generations have benefitted from it, and still benefit — but it was even more important because it introduced to Canada the American foundation idea. This, in Carnegie’s mind, was a belief that money from great national fortunes should be used not for simple charity but for exceptionally creative purposes. It should introduce new institutions rather than support old ones, promote new ideas rather than accepted ideas, encourage people to support actively their own local institutions rather than rely on outside subsidy. Carnegie understood that national foundation money should be used to promote human betterment in sly and devious, rather than obvious, ways. It should appear where it is most needed and least expected.

In the last sixty years this idea has been noticed by the Canadian rich, but it has not

caught on. Its failure to take root in Canada can he blamed on the lack of Canadians who are both rich enough and concerned enough to create foundations in the grand, professional style of Carnegie, Rockefeller. Ford and a few others — foundations, that is, with staffs of professional givers (sometimes called "philanthropoids") who search out the more creative ways of dispensing cash. Your typical Canadian Croesus prefers to hand out money himself, as the spirit moves him, in whatever direction takes his fancy: or else die with his cash in hand and let the government do its worst. There are rare exceptions — the professionally organized Glenbow Foundation in Calgary, established by the oil man Fric Harvic partly to encourage the study of the Canadian west, is one. But the American idea has appeared in Canada principally in the good works of the Canada Council, which sees its function as encouragement and stimulation rather than all-out subsidization.

The idea's greatest role, in Canada, has been to provide large sums of American money for a wide variety of special purposes that might never have attracted Canadian cash. Carnegie, and the Carnegie Corporation he founded in 1911 to distribute his money efficiently, have spent $13.3 million in Canada, the Rockefeller Foundation has spent $18 million, and Ford, after a very late start, has spent $5.6 million. There are dozens of other major and minor American foundations that have functioned often or occasionally in Canada, like Kellogg and Pfizer (medicine) and Guggenheim (scholarships in the arts and humanities). Most of them have operated on one variation or another of the original Carnegie principle.

Carnegie liked to say, "You cannot push anyone up a ladder unless he is walling to climb a little himself." He offered to build a public library for any town in the English-speaking world (he eventually built 2,509), but he demanded that the town deserve it. In 1901 he insisted that each of those first seven Canadian cities — Winnipeg, Windsor, Victoria. Vancouver, Sault Ste. Marie, St. Catharines and Ottawa — promise to maintain its library and stock it with books. Later he built libraries in one hundred and nine other Canadian towns, and eventually he spent $2,559,660 on Canadian libraries alone. By the time he died, in 1919, he had left libraries in most places of importance in Canada, but he had also left something more lasting — an understanding of the need for free libraries. Deviously, Carnegie had made free library service a local government responsibility. Unintentionally, he had created the perfect foundation project: what the jargon of the 1950s would have called a "problem-oriented" and "future-oriented” project.

Ever since. Carnegie money has been hard at work in Canada. It was joined by Rockefeller money after the Rockefeller Foundation was organized — with the help of the bright but prudent young Canadian, Mackenzie King — in 1913. The Carnegie Corporation sent its money here under a commonwealth program that spent the interest on seven percent of

Carnegie's money. The Rockefeller Foundation regarded Canada as a section of North America, and sent money here as naturally as to, say, Illinois. But both approaches led inevitably to the decision that both foundations reached in the late 1950s. They both decided, more or less, to stop spending money in ('añada.

East month 1 went to see Stephen H. Stackpole. who runs the Carnegie Commonwealth Program from an office on Fifth Avenue in New' York, to ask him how this happened. The answer was obvious: Africa. "We decided, about 1959," he said, "that with the five hundred thousand to six hundred thousand dollars we have each year for our commonwealth program, we would concentrate more heavily on Africa. When we told the Canadians who had been receiving some of our grants about this, they said, in effect, ‘We can't argue with that.’ We decided it was the wisest decision. Of the twenty-four million dollars we've spent under the commonwealth program, about ten million dollars has been spent in Canada. You set out to start a trend, make a point, then you move on to other things.”

The Carnegie Corporation has made some important points in its time in Canada, and one of the most important was one of the most recent. In 1958 Carnegie granted one hundred thousand dollars to the Canadian Universities Foundation to set up research studies on the future of Canadian universities. Dr. Edward Sheffield's statistical studies of how many students would be arriving at the doors of universities ten or twenty years from now began, a few years later, to create newspaper stories, political speeches and national conferences. And soon they began also to produce increased provincial education budgets and. finally, new universities. It could be argued that without the Sheffield Reports that Carnegie sponsored, and without earlier similar studies also purchased by Carnegie, the expansion in higher education in Canada would be much slower.

But there will be very little Carnegie money in the future, and very little from Rockefeller. The Rockefeller Foundation — whose grants to Canada in the past have ranged over mental health programs, Far Eastern studies and the Stratford Festival but have concentrated most heavily on medicine — has also decided that the underdeveloped countries need foundation money more than Canada and the United States. A Rockefeller officer told me recently, "A great many of the things we helped to start — public health programs, for instance — have now been assumed by federal, state and provincial governments, which support them with tax money. We think this is especially so in Canada. But in Africa and Asia in some of these fields there is nothinp." In the new, poor countries, the Rockefeller Foundation is spending its money on ways to limit population and increase food supplies.

But at the same time Carnegie and Rockefeller are moving out of Canada, Ford is moving in. And for a similar reason: Ford’s idea of its function has changed, and Canada fits the new idea.

Nobody knows exactly why the Ford Foun-

THE ART

OF GETTING MONEY FROM PEOPLE WHO GIVE IT AWAY

Obtaining money from great national foundations is a fine art in the United States. In Canada the art is still in the primitive stage. Here are a few simple rules to guide applicants for grants:

• Be original. Foundations like to blaze trails. The Islamic Studies Institute at McGill has been a winner several times, but an institute to study labor problems likely would lose.

• Don’t be too original. Foundations don’t like eccentricity — learned studies of the Beatles, comic strips and the psychology of parking meters are too bizarre.

• Involve Africa, Asia or Latin America (if possible all three). Foundations are acutely interested in underdeveloped countries.

• Be prepared to match the foundation’s grant, dollar for dollar. Foundations would rather not go it alone.

•Think long range. Foundations like to be in at the beginning of something endless. Other things being equal, the odds favoring the man who says “Help me start this idea” over the man who says “Give me a grant to wind up this project” are roughly 100 to one.

• Involve the Atlantic community. Foundations like the Atlantic community.

• Promise to take over yourself, later. Foundations like to think someone else will carry on the work.

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THE AMERICAN DOLLAR

“The Ford Foundation is a large body of money surrounded on all sides by people who want some”

dation took an especially long time to reach Canada, but it did. It was deep into Turkey. Germany. India and most corners of the United States before it began to operate significantly in Canada. In the 1950s. when Ford was enriching American universities with millions of dollars for expansion and special projccts, Canadian universities received Ford money in the thousands, if at all. The University of New' Brunswick was glad to have forty thousand dollars for research on economic problems in the Maritimes, but that sum could hardly be compared with. say. the $295.000 that Brown University on Rhode Island received for a regional economics program. And while the $4.250 that Ford gave the University of British Columbia in 1956 for research in the behavioral sciences was, no doubt, useful, it wasn't on the same scale as the grant to Yale University of sixty thousand dollars to study the economic behavior of private householders. In the 1950s, in fact, the Ford Foundation granted to Canadian institutions only about one twentieth of one percent of its total outlay.

Terrance Keenan, an editor in the Ford office in New' York that compiles records on the foundation's work, told me last month. “The total Ford Foundation contribution to Canada has been very small, compared to the United States." He thinks this may have been partly because the immediate social problems of the United States and the problems of the poor countries seemed so pressing to the executives of the foundation that they had little time for Canada. “Canada." Keenan said, “seems to present no

feeling of urgency." Ford people also think that Canadians haven't been aggressive in making claims on the foundation, as compared to Americans. Competition for grants is alway s intense. "The Ford Foundation." said Dw ight Macdonald in the New Yorker eight years ago. "is a large body of money completely surrounded by people who want some." Ford rejects about nineteen of every twenty requests it receives. At the same time. Ford can't quite place Canada. Is it an undeveloped country, to be approached in the same mood as Nigeria? No. Is it a part of America, to be treated in the same way as. say. California? No.

As late as 1959. Ford spent only sixty-seven thousand dollars in Canada, or less than a sixth of the sum that Carnegie spent on libraries in 1902 dollars. In the years 1959-1961. Ford spent an average of $109,595 in Canada. not counting a few small grants spread over several years. In this period a few Canadians argued privately with Ford executives that, since a substantial amount of the original Ford money was made by selling automobiles in Canada, some similar percentage should be sent back here by the Foundation. Ford's reaction to this argument was an unequivocal rejection. accompanied by a shudder. The directors of the Ford Foundation believe that, should they acknowledge this proposition, they would make their work more difficult and less effective. If the idea got around that Ford money should be returned whence it came, every state in the union and most foreign countries would have claims as valid as Canada's. The foundation already gets letters from people in. for instance. Mississippi, wondering why. since they buy Fords, no foundation money goes there. And the Detroit Free Press used to run editorials demanding that the foundation spend every cent of its income in Detroit, or anyway within the borders of Michigan. Ford people get very annoyed when this point is raised.

The Ford Foundation, though it doesn't control the Ford Motor Company and is not controlled by it. was conceived partly as a means of keeping the company in the hands of the Ford family. (If the foundation had not been created, the death duties on the original estate would have amounted to hundreds of millions of dollars and the present Fords would have been forced to sell most of their stock to pay them.) The foundation was organized by the first Henry Ford and his son Fdsel. but it did not become a major force in American philanthropy until 1950, three years after Henry's death, when it was re-organized as a national foundation holding eighty-eight percent (all non-voting) of the company's shares. Since then it has gradually disposed of the stock by public sale, so that now it holds only forty-six percent: simultaneously it has invested in scores of other companies. It now has investments valued at $2.300 million and it distributes about $250 million a year. And here there is another argument (no doubt as unacceptable to Ford as the earlier one) to support those people who believe the foundation should spend more in Canada. I.arge sums of the

money received from the sale of the shares have been invested here, and are returning interest — at last count, 5.5 percent of the non-motor-company stock was in Canada, including $9.6 million in Canadian government bonds, $2.28 million in Ottawa city bonds, and $1.77 million in McIntyre Porcupine Mines Ltd.

If it is hard to understand why Ford chose to spend very little in Canada in the 1950s, it is almost as hard to see why this changed in the 1960s. But it did. In July 1962 the board of trustees of the Ford Foundation became concerned with Canalla. In a statement on policies and programs issued that month, the trustees wrote —

"The Atlantic Partnership: The

foundation will help accelerate the development of the Atlantic partnership, including Canada, through the support of joint efforts in such fields as economics, education, science, technology, and the arts. It will give selected assistance to the Furopean nations and Canada in strengthening key educational, scientific, cultural institutions, and in developing their own traditions ol private philanthropy

A dozen other countries would he involved in any such plans, but Canalla was the only one mentioned by name.

The year Ford discovered Canada

The year that statement appeared turned out to be the best year, till then, for Ford grants in Canada. That was the year the Canadian Council on Urban and Regional Research received $500,000 to look into the problems of big-city life in Canada. That year, also. Ford decided to support, with two hundred thousand dollars, the Canadian Institute of International Affairs. and to provide $235,000 for the Institute of Islamic Studies at McGill. The total in 1962 w'as $1,371,289, but in 1963 it more than doubled again, to $2,817,880. Some of the 1903 Ford grants were still modest — for instance. Ford's first theatre grant in Canada, sixty thousand dollars to the Stratford Shakespearean Festival, a figure that was hardly comparable to the $6.1 million that Ford spent on nine professional theatre companies in the United States the year before. But 1963 also brought by far the largest single grant Ford has made in ( añada: $2,325.000 to the University of Toronto to strengthen the graduate engineering program. This was the first time a Canadian university grant had been on roughly the same level as the larger grants Ford makes in the United States.

The grant to Toronto was a ty pical Ford grant of the 1960s, but it also had some of the characteristics of Ford grants in the past — and. indeed, of all high-level foundation grants. "We don't build dormitories. " one foundation man told me recently. And another one said. "We look for the \ ita 1 margin. " Organized, professional philanthropy begins by assuming that most institutions can pay, out of local funds, for normal operations and normal capital expansion. In Toronto's case it assumes that the university can obtain enough money from federal and provincial governments, from public subscription and from alumni

donations, to do most of the work that is routinely expected of it. But Ford also assumes that the university will have trouble finding money for projects that will set new standards of accomplishment or take the university into new fields. The Toronto grant also symbolizes the new emphasis of the Ford Foundation on creating areas of excellence. In 1962 the Ford trustees put. at the top of a list of goals for the foundation, this sentence: "It

should seek out, sustain and amplify

excellence and, where necessary , create new centres of excellence.'" And Henry T. Heald, the president of the Ford Foundation, further explained this policy in an article last year:

"The Ford Foundation ... is more and more turning its activities aw'ay from some of the classic notions of philanthropy — the images of casting a pebble to attract wider ripples of interest or planting a seed to attract a harvest from other sources. Instead, what might be called developmental

tasks are becoming increasingly characteristic of the Foundation's work — the sustained strengthening of critical programs and institutions, the extensive exploration and application of new approaches and forms.”

One result of the new' emphasis is the $3.5 million grant to the Oregon State Department of Education for a wide-ranging campaign to raise the level of teaching throughout the state. Another is the Toronto grant. The university’s and the foundation's beliefs coincide on the point that in future engineers will have to know more science than they have known in the past, in order merely to keep up with the work expected of them. To provide them with this knowledge, universities will need better graduate engineering schools. So Toronto’s Ford money is being spent on a new building, new graduate fellow'ships, an elaborate wind-tunnel arrangement, a great deal of expensive smaller equipment, and something like $450,000 worth of visiting professors.

The chances are that major Ford grants in the future, in Canada as well as in the United States, will be made in the hope of creating similar areas of excellence. Carnegie and Rockefeller grants, when they involve Canada at all, will somehow relate to the underdeveloped countries — if a professor receives a traveling fellowship it will likely be to Africa or Asia, and when an educational association receives a research grant it will be to investigate something like the role of Canadian universities in teaching the students of the poor countries.

THERE ARE DOZENS of private foundations within Canada, but none has so far chosen to play the originating. stimulating role of the American foundations. After finding out what American foundations had been doing here in the last fifty years, I called Dr. Geoffrey Andrew, of the Canadian Universities Foundation in Ottawa, to ask him how the people who try to find money for Canadian universities feel about the changing roles of Carnegie, Rockefeller and Ford. He said, of course, that everyone agreed that the poor countries’ claim on Carnegie and Rockefeller w'as greater than Canada's. and that everyone was pleased by the increase in the Ford grants. The problem, he said, was within Canada. "The university presidents want to get Canadian wealth going into the universities. so they don't stress what the Americans should be doing. I here are perhaps two hundred men in Canada who could establish small foundations, with around one million dollars capital. and there are several who could establish foundations that would be as important as Carnegie was to the United States.” But only a few men have established small foundations; none has established anything on the Carnegie level. "We don't like to talk too much about what the American foundations should do when there are so damn few' Canadian foundations established by the people who could establish them.”

None of the American foundations has been sensationally generous to Canada: a few have even been niggardly. But all of them have seemed important because they have had so many fields to themselves. ★