Maggie Morth
Communications Manager
The Foundation Center
(212) 807-2415

Steven Lawrence
Senior Director of Research
The Foundation Center
(212) 807-2410

New York, NY -- March 31, 2009. In the midst of a deepening economic crisis, the more than 75,000 U.S. grantmaking foundations nevertheless increased their giving 2.8 percent in 2008 to an estimated $45.6 billion, according to Foundation Growth and Giving Estimates: Current Outlook (2009 Edition), released today by the Foundation Center.

Although foundation giving grew modestly in 2008, it did not grow as much as had been expected due to the extreme nature of the current economic downturn. Just under a third (29 percent) of the more than 1,200 foundations that responded to the Foundation Center's annual "Foundation Giving Forecast Survey" a year ago -- before the economic crisis took hold -- said they expected to reduce their giving in 2008. But according to findings from the latest survey conducted in early 2009, close to half of the top U.S. funders (47 percent) actually reduced their giving in 2008.

Findings from the Foundation Center's latest survey suggest that in 2009 foundation giving will decrease in the range of the high single digits to low double digits, even though estimated foundation assets declined a far greater 21.9 percent in 2008. Most respondents (67.1 percent) say they expect to reduce their 2009 giving to at least some extent, with community foundations being most likely to anticipate a decrease. Given the continuing instability in the economy and stock market, it is also likely that foundation giving will decline further in 2010.

Other key estimates for 2008 giving include:

  • Independent and family foundations -- which represent close to nine out of 10 foundations -- increased their giving 2.5 percent to $33 billion in 2008.
  • Corporate foundation giving held steady at $4.4 billion in 2008.
  • Community foundation giving rose 6.7 percent to $4.6 billion in 2008, surpassing corporate foundations for the first time.

"Foundations remain one of the few sources of stability for nonprofit organizations in this very volatile economic climate. However, the longer this crisis persists, the more foundations will have to reduce giving," said Bradford K. Smith, president of the Foundation Center.

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 Giving Survey

Giving projections for 2008 and 2009 reported in Foundation Growth and Giving Estimates are based on responses to the Foundation Center's 2009 "Foundation Giving Forecast Survey" from 1,225 large and mid-size foundations across the country, combined with year-end economic indicators. Final giving figures for 2008 will be available in early 2010. Survey respondents also provided information on anticipated changes in their 2010 foundation giving and the impact of the downturn on their grantmaking. The Foundation Center will present an analysis of these findings in its next economic crisis-related research advisory to be released in April.

Foundation Growth and Giving Estimates also presents findings based on actual 2007 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.

About the Foundation and Corporate Response to the Economic Crisis

The Foundation Center has created a Focus on the Economic Crisis area of its web site 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 experts in the field, links to funder announcements about the impact of the crisis on their giving, links to the economic crisis-related resources of other organizations, and much more. Visit to access these resources.

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.