Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Report: Foundations Giving Up Inspite of Bad Economy -- But Future Declines Possible

The NonProfitTimes is reporting that in the midst of the current deepening economic crisis, the more than 75,000 U.S. grantmaking foundations increased their giving 2.8 percent during 2008 to an estimated $45.6 billion.  These figures come from a report, “Foundation Growth and Giving Estimates: Current Outlook” (2009 Edition), recently released by the Foundation Center.

However, the Times is quick to point out that "[a]lthough foundation giving grew modestly in 2008, it did not grow as much as had been expected due to the extreme nature of the current economic downturn."

According to the Times

Just fewer than one-third (29 percent) of the more than 1,200 foundations that responded one year ago to the Foundation Center's annual “Foundation Giving Forecast Survey” -- before the economic crisis took hold -- said they expected to reduce their giving in 2008. But according to findings from the latest survey conducted in early 2009, close to half of the top U.S. funders (47 percent) actually reduced their giving in 2008.

Findings from the Foundation Center’s latest survey suggest that in 2009 foundation giving will decrease in the range of the high single digits to low double digits, even though estimated foundation assets declined a far greater 21.9 percent in 2008. Most respondents (67.1 percent) say they expect to reduce their 2009 giving to at least some extent, with community foundations being most likely to anticipate a decrease. Given the continuing instability in the economy and stock market, it is also likely that foundation giving will decline further in 2010.

So, while the news was good for 2008, the future does not look as bright.  Bradford K. Smith, president of the Foundation Center in New York City, explains the situation thus: “Foundations remain one of the few sources of stability for nonprofit organizations in this very volatile economic climate. However, the longer this crisis persists, the more foundations will have to reduce giving.”


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