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Highlights of 'Foundation Yearbook', 2009 Edition

July 31, 2009

Every year at this time, the Foundation Center publishes a new edition of its Foundation Yearbook documenting changes in the actual number, giving, and assets of all U.S. private and community foundations.

This year's edition reports that giving by the country's more than 75,000 grantmaking foundations rose by an estimated 2.8 percent in 2008 to a record $45.6 billion (in non-inflation-adjusted dollars). The chart below illustrates the effect of inflation on U.S. foundation giving over the last decade:

FY_Highlights09 fig1

At the same time, the center estimates that foundation assets dropped a record 21.9 percent in 2008 -- and that foundation giving in 2009 will decline by 8 percent to 13 percent. According to center researchers, several factors may help to lessen the impact on giving of this record decline in assets, including short-term increases in payout rates at some foundations, the practice among many foundations of determining their grants budgets based on a rolling multiyear average of their assets, and commitments made to directly address dislocations caused by the current downturn.

FY_Highlights09 fig2

Other highlights from the report (the numbers are for 2007 -- i.e., pre-financial crisis):

  • Actual number of foundations increased by 2,710 -- compared to a peak annual gain of nearly 6,400 in 2000
  • Assets for the 25 largest foundations increased 11.7 percent
  • Giving by the 25 largest funders jumped over 25 percent, to $8.9 billion
  • Gifts into foundations totaled $46.8 billion, up 28.1 percent from the prior year (2006)
  • Number of foundations receiving gifts and bequests of at least $5 million increased from 1,016 to 1,234

You can download a .pdf version of this year's highlights from the Research area of the center's Web site. Before wrapping up, though, I thought I'd leave you with one more graphic -- this one illustrating the fairly dramatic growth of grantmaking foundations nationally since the mid-1970s. What it shows shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone, as it mirrors well-documented trends in population growth and distribution over the same thirty-year period. Interesting, all the same.

FY_Highlights09 fig3

-- Mitch Nauffts


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