chapter  21
Pages 17

Sweden has a long and rich foundation history, but foundations are also found in the midst of a number of challenging societal transformations. Excluding the absolutely smallest foundations, there exist some 15,000 larger ones today. I will focus on the approximately 11,500 larger public benefit foundations. Swedish foundations can be grant-making or operating and administered either autonomously by a board of their own or via another organization’s board. They represent an important element of the nonprofit sector economy and their economic importance must be underlined. However, foundations are not only of economic interest. The dominant role for Swedish foundations seems to be one of complementarity to the public sector. Foundations directly substituting public welfare arrangements are less frequent. Other roles discussed refer to foundations as organizational tools and governance instruments for economic control and ideological governance. Foundations are often created by wealthy people and rooted in a more conservative or liberal tradition. Still, large segments of the foundation population today can be understood as embedded in a social-democratic vision. A number of alternative visions are examined, with the liberal vision emerging strongest among these.