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 -- October 13, 2011. In the wake of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, foundation funding declined across eight of 10 major subject areas, among a matched set of funders. According to Foundation Giving Trends (2011 Edition), released by the Foundation Center, the environment and animals category experienced the largest decline in 2009, followed by the social sciences. Support for education and public affairs/society benefit experienced some gains.

Among the nearly 1,400 foundations whose 2009 grantmaking was analyzed
for the report:

  • Funders awarded 186 grants of $10 million or more, with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation providing five of the 10 largest, mainly for health and education.
  • Education accounted for the largest share of 2009 grant dollars, followed by health, human services, and public affairs/society benefit.
  • International giving, including support for overseas recipients and U.S.-based international programs, accounted for nearly 24 percent of overall grant dollars.
  • Among specific populations, the economically disadvantaged benefited from the largest share of both grant dollars (29 percent) and grants (25 percent).

"The reduction in 2009 foundation giving across most fields was unprecedented but not unexpected," said Steven Lawrence, director of research. "More importantly, our data show that foundations continued to provide substantial support to nonprofits during that challenging year."

Foundation Giving Trends provides a comprehensive analysis of all of the grants of $10,000 or more awarded by nearly 1,400 of the largest private and community foundations in the United States and tracks changes in funding priorities since 1999. Grant dollars awarded by these funders in the 2009 sample totaled $22.1 billion and represented half of total estimated giving by U.S. foundations. The report also examines changes in actual grant dollars and number of grants between 2008 and 2009 by a matched subset of 502 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 leading source of information about philanthropy worldwide. Through data, analysis, and training, it connects people who want to change the world to the resources they need to succeed. 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 450 funding information centers located in public libraries, community foundations, and educational institutions nationwide and around the world. For more information, please visit or call (212) 620-4230.