$1 Billion Poorer, Pew Cuts Grants

The Philadelphia-based Pew Charitable Trusts expects to award $140 million in new grants this year, or about $110 million less than in 1999, when the value of its endowment was over $1 billion more, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

The stock market declines of the last few years have dealt a blow to the endowments of many foundations, and Pew, whose endowment was valued at $3.75 billion at the end of 2002, down from $4.89 billion in 1999, is no exception. In fact, barring a significant rebound in equity values, its assets could shrink further this year. At the same time, the large number of multiyear grants awarded by the Trusts when its assets were larger is now serving to limit the number of new grants the organization can give. "We are carrying over $200 million in expected payments on past commitments," said the Trusts' CEO, Rebecca W. Rimel. "We can't continue our payout in a flat or declining market."

Pew supports a wide range of educational, arts, environmental, and other organizations, both locally and nationally. In 2002, for instance, it awarded money to 286 recipients, including Johns Hopkins University and Philadelphia's National Constitution Center. But with Pew and other large foundations reining in their giving, nonprofit organizations could feel the effects for years to come, says Loren Renz, vice president for research at the Foundation Center. Foundations "function as kind of a savings bank" for nonprofits, notes Renz. "You can go out and ask the public, but you [typically] get small amounts. You need some deep pockets."

Patricia Horn. "Economy Takes Toll on Pew Grants." Philadelphia Inquirer 04/20/2003.