2009 Saw Record Decline in Foundation Giving
Giving Likely to Remain Flat in 2010 and 2011
New York, NY — April 16, 2010. The recent economic crisis caused the nation's more than 75,000 grantmaking foundations to cut their 2009 giving by an estimated 8.4 percent-by far the largest decline ever tracked by the Foundation Center. Grant dollars fell from $46.8 billion to $42.9 billion. Yet according to Foundation Growth and Giving Estimates (2010 Edition), released today by the Foundation Center, this cutback totaled less than half the 17 percent loss in foundation assets recorded in the prior year.
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.
"The economic crisis has not ended for this country's nonprofits, and it will be some time before foundations are in a position to help them return to growth," said Bradford K. Smith, president of the Foundation Center. "But funders have made exceptional efforts to lessen the pain faced by the nonprofit community."
About the Foundation Giving Survey
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.
Foundation Growth and Giving Estimates also presents findings based on actual 2008 giving and assets tracked by the Foundation Center for the more than 75,000 independent, corporate, community, and grantmaking operating foundations in the United States.
The complete report, part of the annual Foundations Today Series on foundation growth and giving, can be accessed at no charge at the Gain Knowledge area of the Foundation Center's web site.
About the Foundation and Corporate Response to the Economic Crisis
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, nonprofits, 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.
About the Foundation Center
Established in 1956 and today supported by close to 550 foundations, the Foundation Center is the nation's leading authority on philanthropy, connecting nonprofits and the grantmakers supporting them to tools they can use and information they can trust. The Center maintains the most comprehensive database on U.S. and, increasingly, global grantmakers and their grants — a robust, accessible knowledge bank for the sector. It also operates research, education, and training programs designed to advance knowledge of philanthropy at every level. Thousands of people visit the Center's web site each day and are served in its five regional library/learning centers and its network of more than 425 funding information centers located in public libraries, community foundations, and educational institutions nationwide and beyond. For more information, please visit foundationcenter.org or call (212) 620-4230.
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