A Renaissance Instrument to Support Nonprofits

Edited by Jonathan Katz Nelson and Richard J. Zeckhauser

in The Governance of Not-for-Profit Organizations

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print August 2003 | ISBN: 9780226297859
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226297866 | DOI:
A Renaissance Instrument to Support Nonprofits

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This chapter goes back to Renaissance Florence to understand the role that donor–church relationships played in the creation of some of the world's greatest art. The focus is on Florentine churches over the course of about 250 years. This period begins in about 1280, when construction began on the first two churches to contain significant numbers of private chapels: the late medieval basilicas of Santa Croce and Santa Maria Novella. It ends in the early 1530s, when Renaissance Florence became a duchy, and the Medici family began to exercise much greater control over local churches, and specifically over the sale and decoration of private chapels. The chapter is organized as follows. Section 5.2 looks at the similarities between the functions and needs of modern nonprofits and the Renaissance Church, and how the selling of chapels provided a useful way to raise money. Section 5.3 discusses the currency and prices of Renaissance Florence, and the reasons for our chronological and geographic focus. Section 5.4 discusses the layout of Renaissance churches, including a description of private chapels, and the construction of these spaces. Section 5.5 explores funding, especially for construction costs, with special attention to the sale of private chapels. Sections 5.6 and 5.7 consider why churches offered such spaces for sale, and why donors bought them. Section 5.8 consists of some short concluding remarks.

Keywords: Renaissance; donors; churches; private chapels; nonprofit organizations

Chapter.  13706 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Financial Markets

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