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


New York, NY -- November 11, 2008. Despite concerns among some nonprofits that the economic downturn may cause foundation funding priorities to shift, a new Foundation Center research advisory, "Do Foundation Giving Priorities Change in Times of Economic Distress?" suggests that grantmaking priorities in most areas, such as health, the arts, and international affairs, do not shift suddenly in the face of reduced resources and are remarkably consistent over the long term.

"There is no guarantee that patterns seen during the early 2000s economic downturn will predict how the current reality will unfold," says Steven Lawrence, the Center's senior director of research and the author of the advisory. "But nonprofits should feel reassured that dramatic changes in overall foundation giving priorities are unlikely."

The advisory notes that foundations do respond to pressing demands outside of their core focus areas during times of exceptional need. For instance, the Foundation Center documented almost $700 million in giving by U.S. foundations in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks and close to $500 million in funding through mid-2007 for relief, recovery, and rebuilding efforts following the 2005 Gulf Coast hurricanes. However, foundations may use discretionary or emergency funds or even tap their endowments to provide this support.

This is the latest in a series of Foundation Center research advisories that explore the potential impact of the current economic downturn on the nonprofit sector. The first, "Past Economic Downturns and the Outlook for Foundation Giving," was issued in October.

The advisories are available at the Center's regularly updated online feature, "Focus on the Economic Crisis," which offers a variety of resources to help nonprofits and foundations deal with the challenges of an unstable economy, including maps of community foundations and the Center's nationwide network of funding information centers; news, articles, and commentary from our Philanthropy News Digest and other sources; podcasts of interviews with philanthropic leaders; and information about fundraising training.

About the Foundation Center
Established in 1956 and today supported by more than 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 philanthropy at every level. The Center's web site receives more than 57,000 visits each day, and thousands of people gain access to free resources in its five regional library/learning centers and its network of close to 400 Cooperating Collections throughout the U.S. and beyond. For more information, please visit or call (212) 620-4230.