News and analysis
March 23, 2014

How The Chronicle Conducted Its Survey of America’s Wealthiest Grant Makers

The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s annual report on the nation’s largest foundations analyzed financial information from 195 of the wealthiest grant makers in the United States, using a combination of survey data and information that foundations report to the Internal Revenue Service.

Eighty-three of the organizations completed a questionnaire from The Chronicle that sought up-to-date information on grant making, including projections for 2014 as well as estimated 2013 information.

Additional data for those organizations and the remaining 112 foundations were compiled from the organizations’ Form 990-PF, the informational tax returns that grant makers file annually and are required to make available to the public.

Most of the information in the informational tax returns covers the 2012 fiscal year. Many foundations provided 2013 and 2014 information that has not yet been audited so it should be considered an estimate.

Foundations With No Data

Organizations that didn’t provide updated data offered many reasons, but most said they did not feel they needed to go beyond what the federal government asks grant makers to make public.

The Chronicle study is based on data from the 150 wealthiest foundations (with at least $404-million in assets) and the 150 that gave the most money (awarding at least $22-million in grants) in 2011 and 2012, according to data provided by the Foundation Center.

Because of overlap on those lists, 198 organizations were asked to provide data.

Company foundations like Publix Super Market Charities and Qualcomm were excluded from the analysis and will be part of The Chronicle’s annual study of corporate grant makers later this year.

3 Provide No Updated Data

Three of the 198 organizations neither completed the newspaper's survey nor provided their fiscal year 2012 990-PF. They are: Gary and Mary West Foundation, the Robertson Foundation, and Windsong Trust.

Taylor Harvey, Justin Myers, and Anu Narayanswamy helped to compile the data for the foundation study.

Send an e-mail to Sarah Frostenson.