International Giving by U.S. Foundations Grew 29 Percent Between 2011-2015

International Giving by U.S. Foundations Grew 29 Percent Between 2011-2015

International grantmaking by U.S. foundations jumped 29 percent, from $7.2 billion to a record $9.3 billion, between 2011 and 2015, a report from the Council on Foundations and Foundation Center finds.

Based on grants data from a thousand of the largest U.S. foundations, the report, The State of Global Giving by U.S. Foundations (19 pages, PDF), found that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation accounted for 50.7 percent of total international grantmaking during the five-year period, or $17.9 billion — $6.5 billion of which supported projects in sub-Saharan Africa. That region received 25.4 percent ($9 billion) of all international giving by the foundations in the study, followed by Asia and the Pacific (18.7 percent, $6.6 billion) and Latin America and the Caribbean (7.7 percent, $2.7 billion).

In terms of issue areas, the health sector received 52.5 percent of total international grant dollars between 2011 and 2015, or $18.6 billion, with the Gates Foundation accounting for 80 percent of the total. According to the report, international grantmaking by U.S. foundations for reproductive health care increased nearly threefold in the five years after a global "gag rule," a U.S.  government rule prohibiting the use of federal money to fund organizations that provide abortions or information on abortions, was reversed in 2009. Other top issue areas were economic development (12.5 percent, $4.4 billion), the environment (10.9 percent, $3.9 billion), and agriculture and food security (8.3 percent, $2.9 billion). According to the analysis, grants focused on climate change represented just 2.4 percent of international grantmaking by U.S. foundations between 2011 and 2015.

The study also found that the average grant size awarded by international grantmakers more than tripled between 2002 and 2015, from $200,900 to $604,500; that U.S. community foundations more than tripled their international giving between 2011 and 2015, from $103.1 million to $314.5 million; and that between 2011 and 2015 just 12 percent of international grant dollars from U.S. foundations went directly to organizations based in the country where programs were implemented, while the remaining 88 percent were channeled through intermediaries based elsewhere.

"U.S. foundations are making a tremendous impact in communities all over the world," said Gene Cochrane, interim president and CEO of the Council on Foundations. "By tracking trends in support for global programs, we play a valuable role in supporting and strengthening the sector's ability to continue to promote the common good globally."

"Equipping social sector leaders with the knowledge they need to be more effective is at the core of Foundation Center's mission," said Foundation Center president Bradford K. Smith. "This data will help funders and civil society organizations identify gaps, improve approaches, and better align strategies as they work to solve some of our most critical global problems."

For more information about international grantmaking by U.S. foundations, check out to the Council on Foundations and Foundation Center webinar "How Do US Foundations Support Global Programs and Partners? New Data and Trends" on August 14, 2018.

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