Thursday, June 17, 2010

Reports Present Differing Views of Foundation Grantmaking in Response to the Great Recession

Two recent reports present sharply divergent views regarding whether and to what extent grantmaking foundations have stepped up to the plate in response to the recent economic downturn. 

The Philanthropic Collaborative, a new coalition of charities, foundations, and elected officials, released Responding in Crisis: An Early Analysis of Foundations' Grantmaking During the Economic Crisis.  Based on a non-representative sample of approximately 2,700 grants totaling $472 million, this report concludes that foundations have "quietly, expertly, and quickly . . . supported American individuals, families, and communities in need," including by sending more grants to states experiencing relatively more severe mortgage delinquency problems and an increasing proportion of grants and overall grant amounts to states with high unemployment. 

In contrast, the Center for Philanthropy released A Time of Need: Nonprofits Report Poor Communication and Little Help from Foundations During the Economic Downturn.  This report on 6,000 grantees of 37 foundations from across the country concluded that the grantees both "do not perceive funders to have communicated their responses to the economic downturn clearly, if at all" and "report that funders have offered them little useful help in responding to the challenges of the downturn." 

Given the different study methods and subjects, not to mention their limited data, the studies are not necessarily inconsistent but instead may reflect two very different perspectives, that of grantors versus that of existing grantees, on what is broadly the same issue.  The key questions are therefore which perspective is the better one, and is their an even better, third perspective from which to look at this issue

LHM

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