Commission on Private Philanthropy and Public Needs

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The Commission on Private Philanthropy and Public Needs (Filer Commission) "was founded in November 1973 through the efforts of John D. Rockefeller, III, House Ways and Means Chairman Wilbur D. Mills, Secretary of the Treasury George P. Shultz, and Under Secretary William E. Simon. The Commission was formed to study the role of philanthropic giving in the United States and to make recommendations regarding ways to strengthen and increase the effectiveness of the voluntary sector. Composed of religious and labor leaders, former cabinet members, executives of foundations and corporations, federal judges, and representatives of several minority groups, the Commission sought to reach its goal through research and debate. The findings and recommendations of the Commission were published in a final report entitled, Giving in America: Toward a Stronger Voluntary Sector." [1]

"The chairman of the Commission was John H. Filer, chairman of Aetna Life & Casualty Company. Aetna, John D. Rockefeller 3rd, and the Ford Foundation each contributed $25,000 to get the Commission started. Eventually the Commission raised over $2 million to fund its efforts. The Filer Commission sponsored numerous research studies by scholars in disciplines such as health, education, religion, law, and sociology." [2] also see

Commission Members [3]

  • John H. Filer, Chairman of Aetna Life and Casualty and Director of the Hartford Institute of Criminal and Social Justice.
  • Leonard L. Silverstein, Silverstein and Mullens and Director of the National Symphony Orchestra Association.
  • William H. Bowen, President of Commercial National Bank and Director of the Arkansas Association of Private Colleges.
  • Lester Crown, President of Material Service Corporation and Trustee of Northwestern University.
  • C. Douglass Dillon, Chairman of U.S. and Foreign Securities Corporation and President of Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  • Edwin D. Etherington, Former President of Wesleyan University and Trustee of Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
  • Bayard Ewing, Tillinghast, Collins and Graham and Vice Chairman of United Way of America.
  • Frances Tarlton Farenthold, Past Chairperson of National Women's Political Caucus.
  • Max M. Fisher, Chairman of United Brands Company and Honorary Chairman of United Foundations.
  • Raymond J. Gallagher, Bishop of Lafayette-in-Indiana.
  • Earl G. Graves, Publisher of Black Enterprise and Commissioner of Boy Scouts of America.
  • Paul R. Haas, President and Chairman of Corpus Christi Oil and Gas Company and Trustee of Paul and Mary Haas Foundation.
  • Walter A. Haas, Jr., Chairman of Levi Strauss and Company and Trustee of the Ford Foundation.
  • Philip M. Klutznick, Klutznick Investments and Chairman of Research and Policy Committee and Trustee of Committee for Economic Development.
  • Ralph Lazarus, Chairman of Federated Department Stores, Inc. and Former National Chairman of United Way of America.
  • Herbert E. Longenecker, President Emeritus of Tulane University and Director of United Student Aid Funds.
  • Elizabeth J. McCormack, Special Assistant to the President of Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Inc.
  • Walter J. McNerney, President of Blue Cross Association.
  • William H. Morton, Trustee of Dartmouth College.
  • John M. Musser, President and Director of General Service Foundation.
  • Jon O. Newman, Judge, U.S. District Court and Chairman of Hartford Institute of Criminal and Social Justice.
  • Graciela Olivarez, State Planning Officer and Director of Council on Foundations, Inc.
  • Alan Pifer, President of Carnegie Corporation of New York.
  • George Romney, Chairman of the National Center for Voluntary Action.
  • William Matson Roth, Regent of University of California and Chairman of San Francisco Museum of Art.
  • Althea T. L. Simmons, Director for Education Programs of the NAACP Special Contribution Fund.
  • Leon H. Sullivan, Pastor of Zion Baptist Church.
  • David B. Truman, President of Mount Holyoke College.

Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch articles


  1. Commission on Private Philanthropy and Public Needs, Philanthropy Collections, accessed May 22, 2008.
  2. Finding Aid, Rockefeller Archive, accessed May 22, 2008.
  3. Commission on Private Philanthropy and Public Needs, Philanthropy Collections, accessed May 22, 2008.