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Key Facts on Community Foundations

April 27, 2010

Our colleagues in Research have released a series of fact sheets pulled from the just-released 2010 edition of Foundation Growth and Giving Estimates. We'll be taking a look at all three over the next few days, starting with a few key facts on community foundations:

  • $4.1 billion -- Estimated giving by community foundations in 2009
  • -9.6 percent -- Estimated decrease in community foundation giving between 2008 and 2009
  • 709 -- Number of grantmaking community foundations in 2008
  • 46 percent -- Share of community foundations reporting more than $1 million in giving in 2008
  • 10 percent -- Community foundation giving as a share of all foundation giving in 2008

As the charts below show, for most of the past two decades, annual growth in community foundation giving had surpassed gains reported by independent and corporate foundations. This pattern reversed in 2009, with community foundation giving declining by an estimated 9.6 percent, exceeding the estimated reductions in independent (-8.9 percent) and corporate (-3.3 percent) foundation giving. This was the first decline in current-dollar community foundation giving recorded since 1994.



Findings from the Foundation Center's annual giving survey also show that education (23 percent) and human services (20 percent) were the top priorities of community foundations in 2008, followed by arts and culture (16 percent), health (13 percent), public affairs/society benefit (11 percent), environment/animals (7 percent), religion (5 percent), international affairs/development/peace (3 percent), science/technology (2 percent), and other (1 percent).


Finally, the survey found that community foundations appear to be somewhat pessimistic about the outlook for their giving in 2010, with a larger share of community foundations (42.2 percent) anticipating a reduction in their giving this year compared to corporate (40 percent) and independent (38.1 percent) foundations. Moreover, among the largest community foundations -- those giving more than $10 million -- half expect to reduce their funding in 2010.


Despite the lower levels of giving, community foundations have been leaders in responding to needs generated by the economic crisis. According to a center survey conducted at the height of the crisis in early 2009, 35 percent of community foundation respondents were engaging in special initiatives to help their communities cope with repurcussions of the economic downturn.

To download a copy of the complete Giving Estimates report (12 pages, PDF), click here.

-- Mitch Nauffts

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