Cheryl Loe
Communications Project Manager
The Foundation Center
(888) 356-0354 ext. 701

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

New York, NY -- August 5, 2010. In the first year of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, foundation funding declined across five of 10 major subject areas, among a matched set of funders. According to Foundation Giving Trends (2010 Edition), released by the Foundation Center, human services experienced the largest decline in 2008 -- down 12.7 percent -- followed by science and technology. During the same period, overall grant dollars managed to grow 5.4 percent, and support for the environment and international affairs each jumped by more than half from the prior year.

Among the nearly 1,500 foundations whose 2008 grantmaking was analyzed for the report:

  • Funders awarded a record 214 grants of $10 million or more, with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation providing six of the 10 largest, mainly for health and international development.
  • Health accounted for the largest share of 2008 grant dollars, followed by education, human services, and the arts
  • International giving, including support for overseas recipients and U.S.-based international programs, reached a record 24.4 percent of grant dollars.
  • Among specific populations, the economically disadvantaged benefited from the largest share of grant dollars -- a record 27.5 percent.

The full force of the economic crisis did not register in 2008 foundation giving," said Steven Lawrence, director of research and the report's principal author. "But losses among half of the major fields showed what would come the following year."

Foundation Giving Trends provides a comprehensive analysis of all of the grants of $10,000 or more awarded by nearly 1,500 of the largest private and community foundations in the United States and tracks changes in funding priorities since 1998. Grant dollars awarded by these funders in the 2008 sample totaled $25.3 billion and represented roughly half of overall giving by U.S. foundations. The report also examines changes in actual grant dollars and number of grants between 2007 and 2008 by a matched subset of 493 foundations.

The report can be purchased ($45) at the Gain Knowledge area of the Foundation Center's web site. "Highlights" of the study can be accessed at no charge.

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 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.