Pennies for Progress

Pennies for Progress

Foundation funding in support of social justice did not increase during, or in the immediate aftermath, of the Great Recession, even as foundation assets recovered to pre-recession peaks and overall grantmaking grew by more than $6 billion, a report from the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy finds. The report, Pennies for Progress (21 pages, PDF), found that between 2003 and 2013, foundation support for marginalized communities as a share of all grantmaking grew only 5 percent, while funding for long-term social justice strategies that improve the lives of the poor remained flat. The report characterized much of that funding as top-heavy, with fully a third (33 percent) of the funds directed to underserved communities awarded by two hundred and fifty foundations that prioritized those populations and 20 percent awarded by twenty large foundations that did not. The report calls on grantmakers to increase their support for underserved communities, with the explicit goal of driving long-term systemic change in those communities; to increase their support for strategies proven most effective at addressing the root causes of the social issues they seek to address; and to provide more flexible support in the form of multiyear grants and unrestricted general support.