International Giving by U.S. Foundations Held Steady in 2009, Report Finds

U.S. foundation giving for international purposes totaled $6.7 billion in 2009, down just 4 percent from 2008, a new report from the Foundation Center and the Council on Foundations finds.

The report, International Grantmaking Update: A Snapshot of U.S. Foundation Trends (8 pages, PDF), which tracked giving for both overseas recipients and U.S.-based international programs, found that the decline in international giving was less than half the estimated 8.4 percent decline in overall foundation giving in 2009 and followed a period, between 2006 and 2008, of significant growth in international giving.

The report also found that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation accounted for more than two out of five international dollars in the 2008 grants sample, or more than $2.7 billion; that international giving by other foundations in the sample grew faster than giving by Gates (62 percent versus 39 percent); that health received the largest share (39 percent) of international support in 2008, followed by development (21 percent) and the environment (17 percent); and that U.S.-based international programs received approximately two-thirds of the grant dollars awarded by the sampled foundations, while overseas recipients received roughly a third of the remaining dollars.

"Contrary to some fears, foundations did not abandon international grantmaking during the economic crisis," said Foundation Center president Bradford K. Smith. "These findings demonstrate their firm commitment to addressing global issues."