November 18, 2011

Social-Justice Giving Hit Skids During Recession

Foundation support for nonprofits that fight for social justice seems to have been hurt disproportionately by the recession, according to a new report from the Foundation Center.

The study examined giving by 54 foundations that support groups working for greater economic and social equity.

It found that grant making by those funds dropped by 19 percent, to $763-million, from 2008 to 2009.

And giving to social justice isn't expected to recover quickly. Grant making in 2015 is projected to be 5.5 percent lower than giving in 2008, according to data from 18 of the foundations examined.

Among the report's other conclusions:

  • Small funds with less than $50-million in assets were hit the hardest and will struggle the most to recover.
  • Nonprofits will have trouble finding new donors. Many social-justice foundations became more selective after the recession, ending their practice of taking unsolicited grant proposals and directing multiyear grants to current beneficiaries. In addition, the Atlantic Philanthropies, the Beldon Fund, and the Quixote Foundation, among other social-justice grant makers, have recently given away or plan to give away all their money.