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  Press Release



Maggie Morth
Communications Manager
The Foundation Center
(212) 807-2415


Loren Renz
Vice President for Research
The Foundation Center
(212) 807-3601

Foundation Center Releases Estimates of 2002 Foundation Giving and Assesses Prospects for 2003


New York, N.Y, March 31, 2003. The Foundation Center has just released Foundation Growth and Giving Estimates: 2002 Preview, which projects that giving by the country's nearly 62,000 grantmaking foundations remained steady at an estimated $30.3 billion in the latest year, almost unchanged from $30.5 billion in 2001. This relatively stable level of giving followed six consecutive years of double-digit percentage growth in foundation support. Foundation giving will almost certainly decrease in 2003, although not as dramatically as might be feared given the state of the economy and stock market.

In the face of three straight years of stock market declines—exacerbated by the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks—and a year-long recession, several factors contributed to the overall stability of foundation giving in 2002. Giving by newly active foundations established near the end of the recent economic boom brought additional resources to the field. A continuing high level of new gifts and bequests from donors to existing foundations reduced losses to foundation endowments, thereby helping to limit cuts in giving. Ongoing payment of commitments made in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks provided a boost to overall foundation payments. In addition, an effort on the part of many foundations to maintain stable levels of giving—or at least to limit reductions—in the face of government cutbacks helped to keep overall foundation giving steady.

"The stability of giving in 2002 reflects how large and diverse the U.S. foundation community has become," stated Sara Engelhardt, president of the Foundation Center. "Although most of the largest foundations lost assets in the stock market decline, several maintained or even increased their giving. At the same time, giving by the growing pool of smaller and newer foundations helped to mitigate decreases reported by many of the bigger foundations."

Findings from Foundation Growth and Giving Estimates are based on aggregate 2001 giving and asset data tracked by the Foundation Center for close to 62,000 U.S. grantmaking foundations. Giving projections for 2002 and 2003 are based on estimates reported in the Center's 2003 "Foundation Giving Forecast Survey" by more than 760 large and mid-size foundations, combined with year-end fiscal indicators and supplemental reporting by donors of 9/11 contributions.

Prospects Less Promising for Maintaining
Current Giving Levels in 2003

An estimated 10 to 12 percent loss in the value of foundation assets in 2002, following a nearly 4 percent decrease in 2001, and ongoing instability in the economy and stock market suggest that foundation giving will decline in 2003. Moreover, roughly two-fifths of respondents to the Foundation Center's 2003 survey indicated that they expected their giving to decline in the current year. Yet close to three-fifths of funders expected their giving to remain about the same or increase&151;including at least a few of the nation's largest independent foundations and several leading corporate and community foundations. Giving by newly established foundations, while a relatively small proportion of total giving, will also help to moderate overall decreases. Together, these findings suggest that foundation giving will decline in 2003, although not to the extent that could be expected based on the recent performance of the economy and stock market.

"Many funders made exceptional efforts in 2002 to avoid cuts in giving and will do what they can to limit large reductions in 2003," noted Sara Engelhardt. "Continuing losses in endowment values, especially among the largest U.S. foundations, will take a toll on overall levels of giving. But foundations understand better than most the devastating impact of state and local government budget cuts on the finances of nonprofits."

Independent Foundation Giving Slips in 2002;
Corporate and Community Foundations Report Modest Rise

Independent Foundation Giving Decreases 1.5 Percent in 2002. Independent foundations, including family and "new health foundations" (formed from health care conversions), comprise the vast majority of foundations and account for most of the giving. In 2002, total giving by these foundations dipped an estimated 1.5 percent. Actual grant dollars slipped from $23.7 billion in 2001 to an estimated $23.3 billion—the first decrease in independent foundation giving reported since the Foundation Center began separate tracking of these foundations in 1987. This dip in giving followed a 3.5 percent decline in independent foundation assets in 2001.

Corporate Foundation Funding Increases 2.2 Percent. Giving by corporate foundations rose an estimated 2.2 percent in 2002, following a 10 percent rise in 2001. Actual grant dollars increased by $73.7 million to an estimated $3.4 billion in the latest year. A small gain in the level of new gifts into corporate foundations in 2001 (which helped to offset decreases in corporate foundation assets), along with the continued payment of pledges made in response to the 9/11 attacks, helped to bring about positive growth in 2002 giving.

Community Foundation Giving Rises 2.6 Percent in 2002. Support from community foundations grew an estimated 2.6 percent in 2002, ending seven consecutive years of double-digit percentage increases. Actual grant dollars reached an estimated $2.46 billion, up from $2.40 billion in 2001. This modest increase represented the slowest growth in community foundation giving since 1994 and reflected a decline in the level of gifts received from donors.

Number of Grantmaking Foundations Grows by Nearly 5,200 in 2001. U.S. foundation giving continues to benefit from the boom in foundation creation that began in the 1980s and accelerated in the 1990s. In 2001, the overall number of active foundations rose by 5,228 or 9.2 percent. This represented the second largest percentage increase in the number of foundations reported since the Foundation Center began tracking all U.S. foundations in 1975.

Copies of Foundation Growth and Giving Estimates can be accessed at no charge from the "Researching Philanthropy" area of the Foundation Center's Web site ( For media who would like to request a print copy of the report, call 212-807-2486. The Center will release an in-depth examination of 2001 foundation growth trends and more detailed findings from the 2003 survey in Foundation Yearbook: Facts and Figures on Private and Community Foundations, in late June. "Highlights" of Foundation Giving Trends, 2002 Edition, the Foundation Center's annual examination of funding trends of more than 1,000 larger U.S. foundations, are available at

Foundation Growth and Giving Estimates is part of the annual Foundations Today Series of reports on foundation growth and trends in foundation giving. Other reports in the series include Foundation Giving Trends, Foundation Yearbook, Foundation Staffing, and Foundation Reporting. The complete series may be purchased at the Foundation Center's online Marketplace (


The Foundation Center's mission is to support and improve philanthropy by promoting public understanding of the field and helping grantseekers succeed. To achieve its mission, it collects, organizes, and communicates information on U.S. philanthropy; conducts and facilitates research on trends in the field; provides education and training on the grantseeking process; and ensures public access to information and services through its World Wide Web site, print and electronic publications, five library/learning centers, and a national network of Cooperating Collections. Founded in 1956, the Center is the nation's leading authority on philanthropy and is dedicated to serving grantseekers, grantmakers, researchers, policymakers, the media, and the general public.

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