Foundation Giving Held Steady in 2010, Study Finds

Foundation Giving Held Steady in 2010, Study Finds

The more than 76,000 grantmaking foundations in the United States gave an estimated $45.7 billion in 2010, an amount virtually unchanged from 2009, a new report from the Foundation Center finds.

Based on a survey of 1,141 large and midsize foundations as well as the latest data available on foundation giving and assets tracked by the Foundation Center, the 2011 edition of Foundation Growth and Giving Estimates (16 pages, PDF) found that giving in 2010 remained just 2.1 percent below the record amount of $46.8 billion awarded by foundations in 2008. It also found that independent and family foundations, which represent the vast majority of U.S. foundations, reduced their giving in 2010 by less than 1 percent, to $32.5 billion, while corporate foundation giving held steady at $4.7 billion, and community foundation giving fell 2.1 percent, to $4.1 billion — the first such two-year decline on record.

Although more than 45 percent of respondents said they had reduced their funding last year, the actions of other grantmakers buoyed the field. "Foundations provided stability for nonprofits during a time of crisis," said Foundation Center president Bradford K. Smith. "Many made extraordinary efforts to maintain their giving levels, while other, often newer foundations even increased their giving."

The survey findings suggest that foundation giving will grow between 2 percent and 4 percent in 2011, propelling it past the 2008 level. Grantmakers also appear optimistic about 2012. Assuming no unexpected economic strife, foundation giving should realize another modest year-over-year gain.

"Over half of foundations we surveyed expect to increase their giving this year," said Steven Lawrence, director of research and the report's principal author. "These additional dollars will help to seed the many promising endeavors put on hold during the depths of the economic crisis."

"Foundation Giving Held Steady in 2010." Foundation Center Press Release 04/07/2011.