U.S. Foundation Giving for International Purposes Reaches Record Level According to New Foundation Center Report

New York, NY -- December 4, 2008. Estimated U.S. foundation giving for international purposes reached a record $5.4 billion in 2007, and 2008 giving is likely to top that record. According to International Grantmaking IV: An Update on U.S. Foundation Trends, a new report prepared by the Foundation Center in cooperation with the Council on Foundations, the prospects for international giving in the near term are also less pessimistic than current market conditions might suggest.

"The single most important message from this study is that international grantmaking is here to stay," says Foundation Center President Bradford K. Smith. "More U.S. foundations are spending more resources on international problems, challenges, and opportunities than at any time in history."

International Grantmaking IV examines the current state of foundation giving for overseas recipients and U.S.-based international programs and its outlook for the future. Among the major findings detailed in the report:

  • International giving grew faster than overall giving between 2002 and 2007 -- after inflation, international support rose by more than 50 percent, compared to a 22.3 percent rise in total giving.
  • The Gates Foundation accounted for more than half of the increase in funding between 2002 and 2006.
  • Excluding the Gates Foundation, international giving still grew faster than overall giving, benefiting from increased funding by new and newly large foundations, higher levels of giving by well-established international funders with growing endowments, and the foundation response to natural and humanitarian disasters around the world.
  • Region-specific grants to U.S.-based recipients mainly targeted programs focused on Sub-Saharan Africa, while overseas funding primarily benefited global programs and Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Giving related to health issues captured the largest share of international grant dollars, while funding for international development showed the most growth from 2002 to 2006.
  • Excluding Gates, the greatest share of international grant dollars went for international development, followed by the environment and health.

"In a globalized world, philanthropy is rapidly becoming global as well, and this new report highlights U.S. foundations' engagement in seeking solutions to global challenges like poverty, climate change, and disease," said Steve Gunderson, president and CEO of the Council on Foundations.

This latest update of the Foundation Center's benchmark series on international funding examines changes in grantmakers' strategies and practices and the outlook for giving based on a 2008 survey and interviews with leading funders. It also documents trends in giving through 2006 based on actual grants awarded by over 1,000 of the largest U.S. foundations.

International Grantmaking IV can be purchased ($40) at the Gain Knowledge area of the Foundation Center's web site. Highlights can be downloaded at no charge.

Programs will be held in New York and Washington, DC, in conjunction with the release of the report, featuring presentations of the report findings and panel discussions with foundation leaders. The programs are free of charge and are open to the media. The full report will be available for purchase at these programs at a 20 percent discount off the regular purchase price.

New York City: Monday, December 8, 2008, from 2:30 - 4:30 PM.
Location: The Foundation Center, 79 Fifth Avenue (at 16th Street), New York City

Washington, DC: Tuesday, December 9, 2008, from 9:00 - 11:00 AM
Location: Council on Foundations, 2121 Crystal Drive, Suite 700, Arlington, VA
To register, email Patricia Marshall at marsp@cof.org.

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 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 offices and a network of close to 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 foundationcenter.org 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 more than 2,100 independent, operating, community, public, and company-sponsored foundations, and corporate giving programs 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 www.cof.org.