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Abstract

Philanthropic foundations are seen as organizations that allocate resources to achieve their visions of a better world. Drawing on a sample of foundations in Canada, the United States, and Europe, this research undertakes to reveal the social values that constitute such visions and to measure the consistency between espoused social values and those conveyed by resource allocations. A social values identification and measurement instrument is described and tested. The social values that comprise the instrument are presented in a chart of social values. A methodology for measuring the consistency between social values espoused by a foundation and those actually conveyed by resource allocation decisions is described, tested, and critiqued. It is argued that the results of this research provide a basis on which to pursue development of a standardized vocabulary of social values that may enhance understanding and discourse regarding the purposes and work of foundations, as well as provide a basis for cross-cultural comparative analyses of foundations.