James Piereson offers an interesting history of the role of foundations in stimulating political ideas and debates.
In the period running from the end of World War II down to the present, conservative philanthropy has gone through at least two distinct phases, and is now entering a third. Surprising as it may seem, both earlier phases were defined by ideas rather than by narrow business or corporate interests.
The first phase, which began in the mid-1940s and ran well into the '70s, was guided more by an interest in classical liberalism and libertarianism than in conservatism as it has been understood more recently.
His description of the influence of Hayek is interesting, as is his discussion of neoconservatism. It made me think of a short description of the difference between a neoconservative and a libertarian:
A neoconservative believes that an "ownership society" is one where you are taxed in order to fund personal savings accounts. A libertarian believes that an ownership society is where you get to keep your money in the first place.
In my view, the biggest problem that libertarian philanthropy faces today is the wealthy churches of academia, which have far more assets than any foundation and which are overwhelmingly in the hands of spoiled, intellectually cocooned leftists.