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Foundations Commit Over $100 Million to Address Economic Crisis

January 22, 2009

That's one of the takeaways from a new research advisory issued by the Foundation Center (the parent of Philanthropy News Digest and PhilanTopic). Written by Steven Lawrence, the center's senior director of research, the advisory, "A First Look at the Foundation and Corporate Response to the Economic Crisis," looks at giving totaling more than $100 million by close to fifty institutional donors. The $100 million includes grants and a number of large program-related investments for efforts ranging from foreclosure prevention/mitigation to shoring up foodbanks to services for the homeless.

EconCrisis_pieFigA_total

Source: Foundation Center

The support tracked to date reflects a strong (but by no means) exclusive focus on local needs, with community foundations playing a critical role in directing resources to "safety net" nonprofits in their communities. "We have been told by multiple providers in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties that they are seeing double-digit increases in demand for their services," said Emmett Carson, president and CEO of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, which has committed close to $3 million in response to the crisis. "In many cases, the need is greater than anything these organizations have seen in their histories. Increasingly, it is residents on Main Street -- not the side streets and back alleys of our communities -- that are being affected."

EconCrisis_pieFigB_commitments

Source: Foundation Center

"The new administration will have to take the lead in restoring America's badly tattered social safety net," added Bradford Smith, president of the Foundation Center. "In the meantime, foundations are doing what they do best: acting swiftly, reaching those too often forgotten, and piloting new approaches to deepening challenges."

The data on which the advisory is based can be accessed via a regularly updated interactive map (supplemented by a daily RSS grant feed) at the center's Web site. The first two research advisories in the series -- "Past Economic Downturns and the Outlook for Foundation Giving" (October 2008) and "Do Foundation Giving Priorities Change in Times of Economic Disaster?" (November 2008) -- are also available on the site, along with a variety of resources designed to help nonprofits and foundations deal with the continuing economic turmoil.

Comments and/or suggestions for future advisories are welcome and appreciated.

-- Mitch Nauffts

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