Despite Overall Decline in Foundation Giving,
Several Key Issues Gained Increased Support in 2003
New York, NY, February 22, 2005According to Foundation Giving Trends: An Update on Funding Priorities, a new report from the New York-based Foundation Center, overall giving by the largest private and community foundations decreased 10 percent between 2002 and 2003. Reductions in funding cut across most major fields. Nonetheless, certain areas—such as voter education, disaster preparedness, national security, and arms control—realized substantial growth in funding. In addition, operating support claimed a new record-high share of foundation giving.
“The impact of stock market losses on giving by large foundations peaked in 2003,” noted Loren Renz, vice president for research at the Foundation Center. “Yet, funders maintained a consistent set of grantmaking priorities and managed also to respond to several emerging issues.”
Among the key findings from the report:
Support for areas such as voter education and disaster preparedness showed substantial growth in funding. Funding priorities remained largely consistent in 2003, with education and health leading by shares of total funding. Still, grant dollars for all major fields declined, with the exception of public affairs/society benefit. Within the public affairs field, funding for voter education/rights more than tripled from $4.7 million to $15.7 million—reflecting support for activities related to the 2004 elections. Funding for disaster preparedness—a subcategory of human services—also showed strong growth, nearly quadrupling from $6.1 million to $24.2 million.
General support grant dollars reached new record-high share. Foundations continued to increase their giving for operating support to help nonprofits weather a challenging funding environment. Funding for this type of support reached a record-high 22 percent share of grant dollars in 2003. At the same time, in the face of more limited resources, foundations cut back on major capital commitments. Capital support—including funding for building and renovation, equipment, and endowments—declined to a record-low 17 percent of grant dollars.
Foundation Giving Resources
Foundation Giving Trends documents all of the grants of $10,000 or more awarded by 1,010 of the largest U.S. foundations in 2003 and tracks changes in funding trends since 1994. Grant dollars awarded by these funders totaled $14.3 billion and represented roughly half of overall U.S. foundation giving. The report examines giving by subject focus, recipient type, type of support, population group served, and geographic focus. It also details differences in funding trends by foundation size, region, and type.
Foundation Giving Trends 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 Growth and Giving Estimates (April) and Foundation Yearbook (June).
“Highlights” of Foundation Giving Trends and other Foundation Center research publications can be accessed at no charge from the “Researching Philanthropy” area of the Foundation Center’s Web site, http://www.foundationcenter.org/gainknowledge/research/nationaltrends.html. The report is available for $45 or through subscription to the three-part Foundations Today Series ($95). Discounts are available on bulk orders, which can be placed at the Foundation Center’s online Marketplace, www.foundationcenter.org/marketplace.
About the Foundation Center
The Foundation Center's mission is to strengthen the nonprofit sector by advancing knowledge about U.S. philanthropy. To achieve its mission, the Center 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 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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