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

Jeff Martin
Director of Media Relations
Council on Foundations
(202) 467-0265

International Giving More Than Doubled From 1998 to 2001, New Report Shows

New York, NY, October 14, 2003—International giving increased 131 percent between 1998 and 2001, according to International Grantmaking Update, a new study prepared and published by the Foundation Center with the support and collaboration of the Council on Foundations. The report provides a brief overview of foundation funding for cross-border and U.S.-based international programs. While nearly all funding areas benefited from the rise in giving, global health programs posted the largest gains. In 2002, the stock market decline and the weak economy caught up with foundations, resulting in a modest decrease in estimated international giving.

"Substantial increases in grantmaking by long-standing international donors, the rise of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and a widening base of donors propelled the growth of international funding through the early part of the new millennium," noted Loren Renz, vice president for research at the Foundation Center and principal author of the report. "Driving much of this growth were exceptionally large grants for global health and education."

"More and more foundations are rolling up their sleeves to address tough global issues from AIDS to environmental challenges to conflict resolution," said Dorothy Ridings, president and CEO of the Council on Foundations.

Report Documents Trends in International Giving by Foundations

International Grantmaking Update focuses on international funding trends through 2001 based on an analysis of grants of at least $10,000 awarded by a sample of more than 1,000 of the nation's largest grantmaking foundations. It also explores changes in international giving by foundation type and age, geographic focus, and subject area, and provides a list of the top 15 U.S. international donors. In addition, the report provides 2002 estimates of international giving by all U.S. foundations. The Update can be downloaded for free at Print copies of the report are available by contacting Leslie Marino, The Foundation Center, at or Steven Dau, Council on Foundations, A comprehensive study of the field, International Grantmaking III, will be published next year.

Among key findings from the report:

International giving grew faster than overall giving through 2001. International giving more than doubled (up 131 percent) between 1998 and 2001--far surpassing a 71 percent increase in overall grant dollars. Factors propelling this rapid growth included the strong economy and booming stock market, which raised the value of existing foundation endowments through 2000, as well as record numbers of new foundations. International programs specifically benefited from huge increases in giving by leading established donors, especially the Ford Foundation, the largest international donor in 2001, and also the David and Lucile Packard, William and Flora Hewlett, and Freeman foundations and the Carnegie Corporation. At the same time, international giving received a tremendous boost with the launch of global initiatives by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, now the world's largest philanthropy.

International funding accounted for 15 percent of overall foundation grant dollars in 2001. Throughout the 1990s, international programs captured 10 to 12 percent of giving by sampled funders. In 2001, this share rose to 15 percent due primarily to the Gates Foundation and other large donors. Additionally, more foundations were involved in international grantmaking: 63 percent of grantmakers in the sample awarded international grants in 2001, up from 57 percent in 1998 and 47 percent in 1994.

Health programs received the largest share of international grant dollars in the 2001 sample. Due mainly to large grants from the Gates and Packard foundations, international dollars for health more than quadrupled from 1998 to 2001, to $715 million. As a result, health ranked first among funding priorities of international donors, with 29 percent of dollars, followed by education (17 percent) and economic development (12 percent).

U.S.-based programs garnered a larger share of all international giving. Between 1998 and 2001, support for U.S.-based international programs more than doubled to nearly $1.7 billion, while funding for overseas recipients rose by over 80 percent to $771 million. As a result, the share of international dollars going directly overseas dropped to 31 percent in 2001, from 40 percent in 1998. The bulk of grants to U.S.-based recipients supported global programs, such as worldwide AIDS and environmental initiatives.

Estimated international giving in 2002 by all U.S. foundations declined faster than estimated overall foundation giving. While estimated U.S. foundation giving overall slipped 0.7 percent between 2001 and 2002, support for international programs declined nearly 5 percent. This faster drop reflected a sharp decrease in large multi-year pledges; a return to more typical spending levels by the Ford Foundation; and the disproportionate impact of the economic downturn on large endowed foundations, which provide the majority of international support.


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.


Founded in 1949, the Council on Foundations is a nonprofit membership association of grantmaking foundations and corporations. The Council's mission is to promote responsible and effective philanthropy. Members of the Council include more than 2,100 independent, operating, community, public, and company-sponsored foundations; corporate giving programs; and foundations in other countries.

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