Grantmaking by large U.S. foundations in support of projects in Latin America increased 36 percent between 2006 and 2015, from $358.8 million to $489.5 million (in constant 2015 dollars), a report from Foundation Center, Hispanics in Philanthropy, and Seattle International Foundation finds.
Based on an analysis of grants of $10,000 or more reported by a thousand of the largest U.S. foundations, the report, U.S. Foundation Funding for Latin America, 2014–2015, With Additional Analysis on Central America (16 pages, PDF, English or Spanish), found that total grant dollars peaked in 2011 at more than $700 million — due largely to $209.2 million in endowment support from the Walton Family Foundation to the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation for its international scholarship program — before falling to around $500 million in 2015. The report also found that the number of funders investing in the region increased from 215 in 2006 to 240 in 2015, and that in 2014 and 2015, 306 large U.S. foundations awarded 3,114 grants totaling $1 billion to 1,510 organizations, some located in Latin America and others based in the U.S. (or elsewhere) with programs targeting Latin America.
According to the report, the top twenty funders in 2014-15 provided 81 percent of the grant dollars going to Latin America, with the top ten, led by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (ninety-seven grants totaling $262.6 million), accounting for 69 percent of the grant dollars awarded. Gates was followed by the Ford Foundation (438 grants totaling $121.1 million) and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation (sixty-eight grants totaling $66.7 million). The report also found that the top recipient of U.S. foundation funding was the ClimateWorks Foundation, which received thirteen grants totaling $80.7 million, and that the environment topped the list of issue areas receiving support, at $292.9 million, or 28.7 percent of grant dollars, followed by health ($254.2 million, 24.9 percent) and community and economic development ($194.6 million, 19.1 percent).
In terms of population group, women and girls received 13 percent of total funding from the foundations included in the study, followed by children and youth (12 percent) and indigenous peoples (8 percent), while in terms of geographic focus Mexico was the beneficiary of the largest share of grant dollars, accounting for 36 percent of all grant dollars directed to the region in 2014 and 2015, with Latin America receiving just 6 percent and Central America receiving less than 1 percent (and 89 percent of that awarded to organizations based outside the region).
"This two-year analysis is an update to seven years of collaborative research," said Lawrence T. McGill, vice president of knowledge services at Foundation Center. "The benefit of multiyear analysis like this is that it helps civil society leaders identify long-term trends so they can better target their resources and collaborate effectively to meet the most pressing needs in the region."
"The number of funders to Central America has been on an upward trend since 2006," said Arturo Aguilar, executive director of the Seattle International Foundation. "However, the majority of funding has gone to organizations based outside of the region, a practice that undercuts the ability of local actors to offer more efficient, appropriate, and sustainable solutions. The ongoing challenges in Central America, especially the Northern Triangle and Nicaragua, call for continued and enhanced engagement by the philanthropic sector."