Reina Mukai
Research Associate
The Foundation Center
(212) 807-2485

New York, NY -- May 28, 2009. Even in the face of a worsening economy, the nation's 717 community foundations raised their giving by an estimated 6.7 percent in 2008 to a record $4.6 billion, according to Key Facts on Community Foundations, a new report from the Foundation Center. The amount given by community foundations also surpassed corporate foundation funding for the first time on record.

While community foundations have benefited in recent years from strong increases in the value of their existing assets and from new gifts and donor bequests, undoubtedly they will be forced to reduce giving in 2009, along with independent and corporate foundations. Close to three-fourths of the community foundations responding to the Center's annual forecasting survey said that they expect to decrease their giving this year.

"Community foundations may fare better than other types of grantmakers, given their large pool of donors and leading role in responding to those affected by the economic crisis," said Steven Lawrence, senior director of research at the Foundation Center. "But most will have no choice but to pull back on giving in the near term."

Other key findings include:

  • After inflation, community foundations reported faster cumulative growth in giving than other types of foundations since 1990.
  • Community foundations have increased their share of overall foundation giving to 10 percent.
  • Education and human services were the top giving priorities of the larger community foundations included in the Center's grants sample.

Giving projections for 2008 are based on responses to the Foundation Center's 2009 "Foundation Giving Forecast Survey" from 173 of the nation's largest community foundations, combined with year-end economic indicators. The outlook for 2009 giving is based on the responses of 159 larger community foundations.

The report can be downloaded at no charge from the Gain Knowledge area of the Foundation Center's web site.

About the Foundation Center
Established in 1956 and today supported by close to 600 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. 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 400 funding information centers located in public libraries, community foundations, and educational institutions in every U.S. state and beyond. For more information, please visit or call (212) 620-4230.