News and analysis
April 07, 2011

Foundation Giving Expected to Rise in 2011, Study Finds

Foundations expect to increase their giving in 2011 by sums that could allow them to surpass the amount they distributed before the recession caused a sharp decline in grant making, according to a new report.

Grant makers gave an estimated $45.7-billion in 2010, according to figures released on Thursday by the Foundation Center, a nonprofit research organization in New York. That is about the same as last year and just 2.4 percent below the $46.8-billion given in 2008, which was a record high.

Foundations in the survey predicted they would increase grants by 2 to 4 percent this year, which means giving could near or pass its 2008 peak, according to the center.

“Over half of foundations we surveyed expect to increase their giving this year,” said Steven Lawrence, senior director of research at the Foundation Center and principal author of the report. “These additional dollars will help to seed the many promising endeavors put on hold during the depths of the economic crisis.”

The findings are somewhat more optimistic than a Chronicle of Philanthropy study of the nation’s biggest grant makers, which found that most of them predicted only a small uptick.

Assets Recovering Slowly

The Foundation Center’s study of more than 1,100 large and midsize foundations found that grant makers’ assets grew by 5 percent in 2010 from their 17-percent drop in 2009 but were still close to 10 percent below their prerecession peak in 2007.

 Among other findings in the report:

  • While the majority of foundations increased giving last year, the economic situation is still very uneven. More than 45 percent of foundations said they had gave less than before.
  • Giving by independent and family foundations remained roughly flat, at an estimated $32.5-billion in 2010, less than 1 percent under 2009’s total.
  • Corporate foundation giving was also about equal to 2009 figures, at an estimated $4.7-billion in 2010.
  • Giving by community foundations dropped 2.1 percent in 2010, to an estimated $4.1-billion, the first consecutive-year decline the annual survey has ever recorded.

Final giving figures for 2010 will be available in early 2012, according to the Foundation Center.