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US Foundation Giving Hit Hard by GFC


28 April 2010 at 5:47 pm
Staff Reporter
2009 saw a record decline in US Foundation Giving with grant-making likely to remain flat in 2010 and 2011, according to new report

Staff Reporter | 28 April 2010 at 5:47 pm


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US Foundation Giving Hit Hard by GFC
28 April 2010 at 5:47 pm

 The recent economic crisis caused more than 75,000 US grantmaking foundations to cut their 2009 giving by an estimated 8.4 percent – by far the largest decline ever tracked by the Foundation Center in New York.

Grant dollars fell from $US46.8 billion to $US42.9 billion. Yet according to Foundation Growth and Giving Estimates (2010 Edition), released by the Foundation Center, this cutback totalled less than half the 17 percent loss in foundation assets recorded in the prior year.

The report says several factors helped to moderate the overall decline in 2009 foundation giving. Principal among them were the decision of a significant number of funders to reduce their operating expenses and/or draw upon their endowments to shore up their giving during the crisis; increased giving by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other grantmakers; continuing gifts and bequests from donors into new and existing foundations; and the practice of asset-averaging by some foundations, which reduces the impact on giving of year-to-year fluctuations in asset values.

Other key estimates for 2009 include:

  • Independent and family foundations — which represent close to nine out of 10 foundations — reduced their giving 8.9 percent to $30.8 billion in 2009.
  • Corporate foundation giving decreased 3.3 percent to $4.4 billion in 2009.
  • Community foundation giving declined 9.6 percent to $4.1 billion in 2009, exceeding decreases by independent and corporate foundations.

Findings from the Foundation Center’s annual "Foundation Giving Forecast Survey" suggest that 2010 foundation giving will remain flat — a less pessimistic outlook than respondents anticipated a year ago. Should the economic rebound not derail, foundation giving may show positive, though modest, growth in 2011.

Giving projections for 2009 through 2011 reported in Foundation Growth and Giving Estimates are based on responses to the Foundation Center’s 2010 "Foundation Giving Forecast Survey" from 1,248 large and mid-size foundations across the country, combined with year-end economic indicators. Final giving figures for 2009 will be available in early 2011.

The Foundation Center created a Focus on the Economic Crisis area of its web site in 2008 that links to numerous resources to help grantmakers, Not for Profits and the general public understand the impact of the economic downturn on institutional philanthropy. Resources include interactive maps, Foundation Center research advisories, interviews with foundation and nonprofit leaders and other organizations, and much more.

Visit foundationcenter.org/focus/economy/ to access these resources.

The report can be downloaded at foundationcenter.org/gainknowledge/research/pdf/fgge10.pdf



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