News and analysis
May 21, 2015

Study Summary: Giving Holds Up at Smaller Foundations Despite Slowed Asset Growth

Title: Annual Report on Private Foundations

Organization: Foundation Source

Summary: The report examined the 2014 grant making and investment activities of 769 small and midsize foundations, all Foundation Source clients, compared with last year. All foundations included in the report have assets of less than $50 million.

The study showed that small and midsize foundations consistently distribute more than the minimum-required 5 percent of assets to charity despite a slowed rate of asset growth.

Among the findings:

  • The average charitable distribution was 7.6 percent of a foundation’s assets, about the same as last year. Foundations with assets less than $1 million distributed the largest proportion, at 13.2 percent.
  • Education and human services received the highest percentage grant money, at 28.9 percent and 15.5 percent, respectively. About 37 percent of grants went to general operating support.
  • Average asset growth — donor contributions plus investment returns, minus grants and overall expenses — has slowed from 20.7 percent in 2013 to 3.7 percent in 2014.

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