International Giving by Foundations Reached $5.4 Billion in 2007, Report Finds

Estimated U.S. foundation giving for international purposes reached a record $5.4 billion in 2007, while giving in 2008 is expected to top that amount, a new report from the Foundation Center and the Council on Foundations finds.

According to International Grantmaking IV: An Update on U.S. Foundation Trends (12 pages, PDF), the prospects for international giving in the near future are less pessimistic than current market conditions might suggest. The report found that international giving grew faster than overall giving between 2002 and 2007, up more than 50 percent, after inflation, compared to a 22.3 percent rise in total giving.

More than half the increase in international grantmaking can be attributed to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Gates aside, international philanthropy grew faster than overall giving due to increased funding by new and newly large foundations, higher levels of giving by well-established international funders with growing endowments, and the foundation response to natural and humanitarian disasters around the world. Those funders largely supported international development, followed by the environment and health.

The study also found that region-specific grants to U.S.-based recipients mainly targeted programs focused on sub-Saharan Africa, while overseas funding primarily benefited global programs in addition to sub-Saharan Africa. Overall, giving related to health issues captured the largest share of international grant dollars.

"The single most important message from this study is that international grantmaking is here to stay," said Foundation Center president Bradford K. Smith. "More U.S. foundations are spending more resources on international problems, challenges, and opportunities than at any time in history."