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Is it true that foundations in a few states give most of the grants?

Since 1975, five states have accounted for roughly half of overall grant dollars. Still, there were some changes among the top-ranked states. By region, changes were even more pronounced. Population shifts, booming Sun Belt economies, and the rapid creation of new wealth in the West and South have all contributed to major shifts in the distribution of philanthropic resources.

  • In 1975, New York accounted for one-third of all U.S. foundation giving; by 2010, this share dropped to less than one-sixth. California more than doubled its share of giving to 13.4 percent over the same period.
  • The top five states continue to provide close to half of all foundation giving. Still, their share has declined from 57.5 percent in 1975 to 47 percent in the latest year.
    View chart on the Distribution of Foundation Giving by State, 1975 and 2010

  • Foundation endowments grew faster in the West and South than in the Midwest and Northeast regions between 1975 and 2010.
  • In 2010, assets increased in all four major regions, with the Northeast experiencing the largest percentage gain. Overall, the assets of foundations in the region rose by $16.5 billion (up 9.6 percent) to $188.7 billion.
  • In 2010, the Northeast ranked first in terms of its share of all U.S. foundation resources, followed by the West, South, and Midwest.
    View chart on the Foundation Assets by Region, 1975 and 2010
This increasing diffusion of philanthropy is important because the vast majority of foundations give only in their local communities. Thus, the more widely distributed foundations are, the more likely it is that foundation resources will reach more corners of the U.S. nonprofit community. Still, it bears noting that a number of the largest U.S. foundations give nationally. This means that they can and do provide resources to areas of the United States lacking local philanthropic resources.
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