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

Sean Walsh
Council on Foundations
(202) 879-0678

New York, NY -- December 13, 2010. Giving by U.S. foundations for international purposes held virtually steady last year, generating $6.7 billion, down just 4 percent. According to International Grantmaking Update: A Snapshot of U.S. Foundation Trends, a new report prepared by the Foundation Center in cooperation with the Council on Foundations, this decrease was less than half the 8.4 percent estimated decline in foundation giving overall last year.

"Contrary to some fears, foundations did not abandon international grantmaking during the economic crisis," said Bradford K. Smith, president of the Foundation Center. "These findings demonstrate their firm commitment to addressing global issues."

The slight decrease in international giving in 2009 followed a period of significant growth between 2006 and 2008, as documented in the new report -- which tracks giving for both overseas recipients and U.S.-based international programs.

Other key findings of the report include:

  • International grant dollars grew faster than overall funding between 2006 and 2008 among sampled foundations (49 percent versus 21 percent).
  • The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded over $2.7 billion, accounting for more than two out of five international dollars in the 2008 grants sample.
  • International giving by other foundations in the sample grew faster than funding by the Gates Foundation between 2006 and 2008 (62 percent versus 39 percent).
  • Health captured the largest share (39 percent) of international support in 2008, followed by international development (21 percent) and the environment (17 percent).
  • U.S.-based international programs received approximately two-thirds of international grant dollars awarded by sampled foundations, while overseas recipients received the roughly one-third of remaining dollars.

"International giving from U.S. foundations continues to be strong, improving the lives of millions around the world," said Steve Gunderson, president and CEO of the Council on Foundations. "Even in a tough economy and with limited resources, U.S. grantmakers are active and effective members of the global philanthropic community."

This latest update of the Foundation Center's benchmark series on international grantmaking examines changes in overall giving through 2009 based on a survey of leading funders. It also documents trends in giving through 2008 based on actual grants awarded by over 1,000 of the largest U.S. foundations.

International Grantmaking Update: A Snapshot of U.S. Foundation Trends (PDF) 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 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 450 funding information centers located in public libraries, community foundations, and educational institutions nationwide and beyond. For more information, please visit or call (212) 620-4230.

About the Council on Foundations The Council on Foundations, formed in 1949, is a nonprofit membership association of grantmaking foundations and corporations. Members of the Council include nearly 1,800 foundations, corporations or philanthropic entities in the United States and abroad. The assets of Council members total more than $307 billion. The Council's mission is to provide the opportunity, leadership, and tools needed by philanthropic organizations to expand, enhance, and sustain their ability to advance the common good. For more information, visit the Council's web site at