Just at the turn of the twenty-first century, Richard C. Cornuelle (1927–2011), a leading classical-liberal thinker and premier analyst of America’s “independent sector,” conceived and launched two projects—The Project for New Philanthropy Studies at DonorsTrust and the Fund for the Study of Spontaneous Orders, housed at the Atlas Economic Research Foundation. These complementary projects were designed, respectively, to deepen our understanding of the role of private, voluntary philanthropic and social action in sustaining a free society and to advance scholarly examination of self-organizing social processes.

In 2012, with a growing interdisciplinary network of scholars working to advance an understanding of how free societies actually work, we formed The Philanthropic Enterprise to continue these collaborations and to undertake a broader mission of educational outreach.

The Philanthropic Enterprise is an Indiana not-for-profit corporation and is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt public charity.