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What Foundation Grants Support
What are foundations' preferred funding areas?
Is funding for operating support increasing?
How much funding targets children, people of color, women, and other groups?
Do foundations give outside of the United States?
What else do we know about where foundations give their support?
Is there information available on funding for special topics?
How can I get more information on giving trends?
Foundations Today Tutorial

What are foundations' preferred funding areas; have these priorities changed over time?

Foundations are active in nearly all fields and disciplines; however, a few areas have consistently received greater support than others. The Foundation Center documents funding trends by analyzing fields of interest—as well as types of recipient organizations—based on breakdowns that closely follow the National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities (NTEE).

  • In 2010 education and health benefitted from the largest shares of grant dollars.
  • Education received 23.7 percent of grant dollars, followed by health (21.7 percent) and human services (15.1 percent).
  • Human services received the largest share of number of grants, followed by education and arts and culture.
  • For a matched set of 476 grantmakers*, only education, public affairs/society benefit, and science and technology benefited from increased funding between 2009 and 2010. All other major subject categories saw declines in giving.
View chart on Grants by Major Subject Categories, 2010
  • Based on type of recipient organization, educational institutions accounted for close to one-third of grant dollars in 2010; these grants spanned a wide range of disciplines and subjects (e.g., health and international affairs).

View chart on Major Field-Specific Recipient Types, 2010

Foundation giving priorities differ substantially from those of individuals. Foundations favor educational institutions and human service agencies, while individuals provide the majority of their funding to religious congregations.

*The matched set analyzes year-to-year changes in giving by sampled grantmakers. Over time, the sample size has changed, which could distort year-to-year fluctuations in grant dollars and grants targeting specific activities or populations. To account for these potential distortions, changes in giving are analyzed only for a matched set of funders included in both the 2009 and 2010 samples.


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