6 posts categorized "author-Larry McGill"

Current Trends in Philanthropy: U.S. Foundation Support for Climate Action

November 09, 2018

IStock-470785468Released last month, the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report paints a bleak picture of the disastrous consequences facing the planet if the average global temperature climbs 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The authors of the report warn that humanity will have to cut carbon emissions to almost half the 2010 level as early as 2030 in order to avoid long-lasting and potentially irreversible impacts from climate change, including the loss of many important ecosystems.

The issue of climate change and the impact of human activity on the environment has been hotly debated and has received significant attention from U.S. foundations. According to Foundation Center data, the largest one thousand U.S. foundations gave between $232 million and $261 million annually for climate-related issues between 2011 and 2015, with the exception of 2012, when a large infusion of funds into the ClimateWorks Foundation pushed the annual total to $340 million.

This represents about one percent of giving during that period but does not represent all giving that may contribute to the mitigation of climate change and its effects. Indeed, as much as another 3 percent of foundation giving over that period related to energy issues or sustainable agriculture may have supported efforts to address energy usage and current agricultural practices so as to lessen their contributions to global warming.

Fig1.1_climate action

Energy efficiency and electrification, in particular, have been a significant focus of foundation funding for climate action, with 57 percent of all climate change-related grants funded by the largest one thousand U.S. foundations between 2011-15 related to energy efficiency or renewable energy efforts. Food and agriculture, on the other hand, represented only 3 percent of climate action funding over the same period. Increasingly, however, foundations are recognizing the importance of sustainable food production in tackling climate change and are approaching the issue through an intersectional lens, as evidenced by initiatives such as Project Drawdown.

Fig. 1.2_climate action

The year 2015 also saw the adoption of the Paris Agreement, which the United States initially signed but, at the behest of the Trump administration, subsequently withdrew from. Given that the deployment of capital and funding is a critical factor in efforts to de-carbonize the global economy, the withdrawal of the U.S. from the agreement raises the question as to whether and how foundation giving has changed in response.

Detailed grantmaking data for 2016 (and subsequent years) is still being compiled, so it's difficult to draw any conclusions about the immediate response of foundations to the Trump administration’s decision. That said, several major foundations have announced significant commitments since the agreement was ratified in 2015.

Bloomberg Philanthropies, for instance, has announced climate change-related commitments or challenges totaling more than $200 million since 2015. The Ikea and MacArthur foundations have made commitments in the $40 million to $50 million range. And many private foundations announced large climate change commitments at the recent Global Climate Action Summit, the most notable of which was a $4 billion pledge over five years made by twenty-nine foundations from around the world.

A September 2018 survey of ten prominent foundations in Europe and the U.S. conducted on behalf of the Climate Action Pledge corroborates the largely anecdotal view that philanthropy in support of climate change-related action is growing. Among these ten funders, who collectively account for more than $240 million of climate change funding annually, seven reported that their funding in support of climate action increased between 2015 and 2018, while six expect to increase it over the next two years.

Grantmakers also are using tools such as impact or mission investments to fund climate change activities. One example: climate (or "green") bonds — bonds designed to raise funds for climate and environmental projects — have grown exponentially in value, from $9 billion in 2013 to $80 billion in 2016. And estimates by the Climate Bonds Initiative and Citigroup suggest that the green bond market could reach $1 trillion per year by 2020.

Commitments and investments such as these represent a good first step in what promises to be a decades-long project. But as the latest IPCC report makes clear, bold, collective action from both private and public actors will be needed if the global community hopes to avoid the most dire impacts of climate change.

Larry McGill is vice president of knowledge services and Supriya Kumar is a knowledge services research analyst at Foundation Center. The center would like to thank the King Baudouin Foundation for support that helped make this series possible.

Current Trends in Philanthropy: International Giving by U.S. Foundations

November 01, 2018

Global-giving-report-coverInternational giving by large U.S. foundations reached an all-time high of $9.3 billion in 2015, up some 306 percent, from $2.1 billion, in 2002, when Foundation Center first started tracking it on an annual basis. During the same period, international giving also increased as a percent of total giving, from 13.9 percent in 2002 to 28.4 percent in 2015.

While the number of grants to international organizations and causes has stayed relatively stable, up some 31 percent (from 10,600 to 13,900) since 2002, average grant size has increased more than three-fold, from $200,900 in 2002 to $604,500 in 2015.

Much of that growth can be attributed to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which accounted for more than half (51 percent) of all international giving from 2011 to 2015. When Gates Foundation grantmaking is excluded, we see that international giving grew at a somewhat slower rate (21 percent) during the five-year period, reaching a high of nearly $4 billion in 2015.

Like foundation giving in general, international giving by U.S. foundations is largely project-focused: despite continued calls from nonprofit leaders for foundations to provide more general operating support, 65 percent of international giving by U.S. foundations from 2011 to 2015 was for specific projects or programs. (General support refers broadly to unrestricted funding and core support for day-to-day operating costs. Project support or program development refers to support for specific projects or programs as opposed to the general purpose of an organization. For more information, see https://taxonomy.foundationcenter.org/support-strategies.)

Data also show that U.S. foundations continue to fund international work primarily through intermediaries. From 2011 to 2015, 28 percent of international giving was channeled through U.S.-based intermediaries, 30 percent went through non-U.S. intermediaries, and just 12 percent went directly to organizations based in the country where programs were implemented. What’s more, just 1 percent of international giving was awarded in the form of general support grants directly to local organizations, and those grants were substantially smaller in size, averaging just under $242,000, while grants to intermediaries averaged just over $554,000.

It's important to note that these intermediaries vary in type and structure, and include:

  • International nongovernmental organizations (INGOs) operating programs in a different country than the country where they are headquartered.
  • U.S. public charities re-granting funds directly to local organizations.
  • Organizations indigenous to their geographic region but working across countries (i.e., not just in the country where they are headquartered).
  • Multilateral institutions working globally (e.g., the World Health Organization, Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria).
  • Research institutions conducting public health research or vaccination programs targeted at specific countries that are not the country where they are headquartered.

Unsurprisingly, health was the top-funded subject area supported by U.S. foundations in the 2011 to 2015 period, with grants totaling $18.6 billion accounting for 53 percent of international grantmaking.

Community foundations also have participated in the growth of international giving by U.S. foundations in recent years, with international giving by community foundations more than tripling, from $103 million in 2011 to $315 million in 2015, and community foundations' share of overall international giving by U.S. foundations more than doubling, from 1.4 percent in 2011 to 3.4 percent in 2015.

That growth was largely driven by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF), whose international grantmaking accounted for 63 percent of all international giving by U.S. community foundations in 2015. Even when excluding SVCF, however, international giving by U.S. community foundations increased 71 percent from 2011 to 2015, strongly suggesting a shift in the community foundation field toward a more global understanding of community. (For more about this trend, see Local Communities with Global Reach: International Giving by U.S. Community Foundations.)

The majority (53 percent) of international giving was for programs that address global issues in general, rather than in a specific region or country. The top-funded region was sub-Saharan Africa, which received $9 billion from 2011 to 2015 and accounted for 25 percent of international giving, with the Gates Foundation accounting for 72 percent of all grant dollars benefiting sub-Saharan Africa during the five-year period. Asia & the Pacific was the second-most funded region, receiving $6.6 billion and accounting for 19 percent of international giving, followed by Latin America & Mexico, which benefited from $2.7 billion and accounted for 8 percent of international giving overall.

The Closing of Civil Society Space – Is It Affecting Grantmaking?

Globally, governments continue to propose and pass legislation that impacts how civil society operates. In many countries, these restrictions have complicated direct grantmaking by U.S. foundations to local organizations.

Between 2012 and 2015, the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law identified ninety-eight laws designed to constrain the freedoms of association or assembly that had been proposed or enacted across more than fifty-five countries; 36 percent of those laws limited international funding of local civil society groups. (Rutzen, Douglas, "Aid Barriers and the Rise of Philanthropic Protectionism," International Journal of Not-for-Profit Law / vol. 17, no. 1, March 2015, https://www.icnl.org/research/journal/vol17ss1/Rutzen.pdf.)

How are governments restricting civil society organizations' access to international funding? In some countries, national governments now require pre-approval before a grant can be made and/or grantees must secure permission in advance before they can receive foreign funds. Some governments also mandate that all foreign funding must be routed through a government entity, while other countries have chosen to stigmatize local organizations receiving foreign support through "foreign agent" laws, and still others have enacted foreign funding caps for local nonprofits and/or levied taxes on funding provided by foreign sources. Governments also have used counterterrorism and anti-money laundering as justifications for instituting complicated, often-onerous reporting and registration requirements for grantmakers and grantees.

Even as governments continue to enact restrictions on cross-border funding, Foundation Center data (from 2015) does not yet show any correlation between the amount of funding flowing from U.S. foundations to a given country and that country’s score on the Index of Philanthropic Freedom (an indicator of the health of the enabling environment for cross-border flows for the period 2014–15). Of the twenty countries that received the most direct funding from U.S. foundation in 2015, five scored lower than the global average of 3.4, indicating a challenging legal environment for cross-border giving. India is a notable example, ranking fourth by direct giving but receiving a score of just 2.1.

These findings challenge our assumptions about the impact of the legal environment on funding flows and suggest a more complex relationship than one might expect. It's clear U.S. foundations remain committed to channeling funds to countries where the legal environment is growing increasingly unfriendly. But because the index is relatively new and represents the first attempt to crosswalk philanthropic funding data with data on the enabling environment, it's too early to assess how accurately it has captured shifts in funding.

Still, any exploration of the relationship between the legal environment for cross-border giving and funding flows raises important questions: Why does a significant amount of funding reach certain difficult environments and not others? Are any of the strategies and mechanisms for channeling funds to countries with difficult legal environments transferable across individual country contexts? And how have other funding flows, including individual donations and bilateral aid, been affected by the imposition of legal restrictions?

U.S. Foundation Grantmaking in the Context of the Sustainable Development Goals

With the United Nation's adoption of the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015, U.S. foundations gained a new and powerful framework through which to reflect upon their international giving. Moreover, since the SDGs are globally applicable, they provide a useful lens through which to think about domestic giving as well.

The SDGs are a set of seventeen interconnected global goals that together represent an urgent call for action by all countries — developed and developing — to end poverty, improve health and education, reduce inequality, spur economic growth, tackle climate change, and preserve the planet's oceans and forests. To ensure the goals are achieved, each individual goal has a set of targets and indicators associated with it so that progress toward success can be measured.

Sdgs_frameDeveloped through a multiyear, multi-stakeholder process that included representatives from the philanthropic sector, the SDG framework was implemented on January 1, 2016. It's important to note that the SDGs are not just an initiative created and led by the United Nations but one that all development actors, including foundations, can use and apply in their own work, whether they work internationally or not. Because the goals are universal, the work of any foundation, so long as it seeks to improve the human condition, is considered part of the larger global development effort.

Although challenging to assess at this early stage, philanthropy's support of the SDG framework is being tracked through an online platform, SDGfunders.org, that also serves as a knowledge hub for foundation executives looking to better understand what the SDGs are and to demonstrate to funders how their work may already align with the SDG framework. To that end, the site aggregates data on how the work of U.S. (and some global) foundations maps to the framework and, with the help of a simple tool called the SDG Indicator Wizard, enables funders to understand which SDGs and their associated targets and indicators are relevant to their own work.

So what does the data tell us? In the two-plus years since the launch of the framework, philanthropy has made a substantial contribution toward achieving the goals. Since January 2016, U.S. foundations have provided more than $72 billion in support of SDG-relevant work. And projections based on analyses of foundation funding trends since 2010 suggest that foundations' total contribution to the SDGs between 2016 and 2030 are likely to exceed $360 billion and could total as much as $500 billion. Three factors may push the amount even higher: the continued growth of philanthropy around the world; greater access to philanthropic data as the sector modernizes; and increasing awareness of the SDGs among foundations as the framework is embraced by governments, NGOs, and the private sector.

Given the historical funding preferences of U.S. foundations (see my previous post), it's not surprising that Goal 4 (Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all) and Goal 3 (Ensure healthy lives) have received the lion's share of the funding to date ($24 billion and $22 billion, respectively). Education has long been a priority for many U.S. funders and continues to attract significant funding. And foundations also have contributed significant sums in response to various health emergencies in recent years, in addition to their usual health-related giving.

We would also note that the SDGs are a useful mechanism for coordinating philanthropy’s efforts as it works alongside the UN, governments, the private sector, and nonprofits to achieve its broad development goals and objectives. The Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development speaks directly to the crucial role of philanthropy in achieving the SDGs:

We welcome the rapid growth of philanthropic giving and the significant financial and non-financial contribution philanthropists have made towards achieving our common goals. We recognize philanthropic donors’ flexibility and capacity for innovation and taking risks and their ability to leverage additional funds through multi-stakeholder partnerships. …We welcome efforts to increase cooperation between philanthropic actors, Governments and other development stakeholders. …We encourage philanthropic donors to give due consideration to local circumstances and align with national policies and priorities. We also encourage philanthropic donors to consider managing their endowments through impact investment, which considers both profit and non-financial impacts in its investment criteria....

The SDGs represent an important step toward the realization of a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable global future, and we look forward to continuing to track progress made in achieving them.

In my next post, I'll look at U.S. foundation funding for one of the most important issues of our time: democracy. Until then, feel free to share your feedback in the comments section below.

Headshot_larry_mcgillLarry McGill is vice president of knowledge services at Foundation Center. The center would like to thank the King Baudouin Foundation for support that helped make this series possible.

Current Trends in Philanthropy: The Big Picture

October 29, 2018

Thebigpicture"Philanthropy" in the United States is a vast industry composed of individuals, foundations, and corporations that, in 2017, contributed $410 billion to charitable causes, an amount roughly equivalent to 2 percent of gross domestic product.

Of this total, nearly 70 percent is contributed by individuals, with more than half of that comprised of giving to congregations. The second largest source of philanthropic giving (some 24 percent) comes from grants made by private foundations like Gates, Ford, and Hewlett, which, along with a few dozen other major foundations, dominate a diverse ecosystem populated by tens of thousands of foundations of all sizes. Third is bequests, through which people designate universities, hospitals, and other tax-exempt organizations as beneficiaries in their wills. And last comes corporations — a surprise to many observers, who, given the dominant position of the private sector in the U.S. economy, no doubt assume that businesses play a far greater role in philanthropy.

My organization, Foundation Center, compiles comprehensive data on the more than 87,000 active U.S. foundations and, working with partners around the world, a growing number of foundations and foundation-like organizations in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. The center envisions a world enriched by the effective allocation of philanthropic resources, informed public discourse about philanthropy, and broad understanding of the contributions of nonprofit activity to transform lives and increase opportunity for all.

We also see U.S. philanthropy as having arrived at a critical juncture. Buoyed by a strong economy, U.S. foundations find themselves navigating a complex landscape in a volatile and highly polarized political environment. Foundations have something valuable to contribute in this environment —  namely, flexible resources free from market, electoral, and fundraising pressures. How they choose to use those resources to advance their work over the next few years is of interest to most Americans.

In a series of blog posts to be published over the next few weeks, we will look at some of the emerging issues that are getting the attention of U.S. foundations and will consider a number of frameworks (e.g., the Sustainable Development Goals) that are shaping the flow of philanthropic resources to different parts of the world. We'll also examine a variety of modalities — from traditional grant funding to experimentation with crypto-currencies — that foundations are using to advance their missions.

As many of you are aware, a growing chorus is questioning the foundation model, even as some donors are looking to experiment with new forms of philanthropy. A handful of younger philanthropists (Mark Zuckerberg, Pierre Omidyar) have opted to create limited liability corporations instead of setting up private foundations and have declared that their investments in social good will be directed to a broad spectrum of organizations and vehicles, not just tax-exempt nonprofits. Still, the predominant organizational form for U.S. philanthropy is the private grantmaking foundation, followed by corporate, operating, and community foundations. These legal structures and the regulatory framework in which they are embedded provide considerable flexibility for experimentation and innovation, and their continued popularity suggests that, for now at any rate, the "new philanthropy" is more of a rhetorical device than an actual phenomenon.

General Trends in U.S. Grantmaking: Subject Areas and Support Strategies

Notwithstanding the growth and innovation that characterizes twenty-first-century philanthropy, a number of its hallmarks persist. U.S. foundations have long prioritized funding in the areas of health and education, and that continues to be the case. Of the $69 billion awarded by U.S. foundations in 2016, roughly 30 percent went to health-related causes or organizations, while 25 percent went to education. Indeed, these two areas have accounted for roughly half of all U.S. foundation grantmaking (by dollars) for as long as Foundation Center has collected this kind of data, going back to the 1960s.

U.S. foundations also have long prioritized program support over general operating support. In 2016, just over 40 percent of the grant dollars awarded provided support for specific programs, with general operating support accounting for 20 percent. But persistent calls for change by nonprofit organizations and philanthropic watchdog groups over the past fifteen years have resulted in a steady, albeit gradual, increase in the amount of general operating support provided by foundations. Between 2002 and 2008, for example, general operating support accounted for 16.5 percent of total giving, while more recently (2009-2015) general operating support has averaged 19.8 percent of total giving on an annual basis.

The two population groups that tend to benefit the most from U.S. foundation giving are the economically disadvantaged and children and youth, capturing 39 percent and 20 percent of grant dollars, respectively, in 2016. Support for the economically disadvantaged in particular has grown over the past ten to fifteen years, up from 20 percent of total grant dollars in 2005 — a near doubling, on the face of it, of grant dollars targeting this population group. It's more likely, however, that U.S. grantmakers have become more intentional in targeting the intended beneficiaries of such grants. In other words, socioeconomic status has become a more frequently-used lens through which foundations make decisions about where and how to direct their giving. While a growing number of advocacy groups have been encouraging grantmakers to also employ gender and racial equity lenses in their grantmaking decisions, there is less evidence to suggest that foundations are doing so. It will be interesting, over the next few years, to see whether that changes.

Funding for Nonprofit and Philanthropic Infrastructure

This is an area of special interest to Foundation Center, which has been a critical part of the infrastructure for philanthropy for six decades. First, some background.

The nonprofit sector contributed more than $930 billion to the U.S. economy in 2014, according to data compiled by the National Center for Charitable Statistic. Nonprofit organizations — of which there are more than a million in the U.S. — work to address a broad range of issues — and employ an array of creative strategies in doing so. Given the sector's size and complexity, a substantial set of supporting organizations have emerged over time to assist them in that work. These organizations (generally nonprofits themselves) provide increasingly essential services to the field, including strategic planning, evaluation and assessment, board and staff development, data and research, legal services, and business modeling.

Infrastructure organizations (like Foundation Center) can be grouped into three main categories:

  1. Philanthropy-focused organizations and networks provide services primarily in support of the work of foundations and other philanthropic entities.
  2. Nonprofit-focused organizations and networks provide services in support of the work of nonprofit organizations or the nonprofit sector in general.
  3. Multi-sector organizations provide services in support of the work of organizations both within and beyond the social sector.

The continued viability of these organizations (especially those in the first two groups) relies heavily on the support of the philanthropic sector. A 2018 study conducted by Foundation Center found that U.S. foundations contributed $1.94 billion dollars in support of the nonprofit and philanthropic infrastructure between 2004 and 2015 —  about 0.7 percent of all foundation giving over that period.

The need for infrastructure has grown as the work of philanthropy has grown in complexity. U.S. philanthropy has become more global, more strategic, more focused on impact, and more collaborative. Outside the U.S., philanthropy has expanded rapidly, as has the global philanthropic infrastructure, with half of all non-U.S. infrastructure organizations founded after 2000.

Support for philanthropic infrastructure, however, has not kept pace with changes in the field. Between 2004 and 2015, total giving by U.S. foundations rose 66 percent, while giving for infrastructure organizations grew just 25 percent. And since 2004, funding for non-U.S. infrastructure organizations has declined some 43 percent.

It is perhaps fair to ask whether U.S. funders should continue to shoulder the majority of the burden to support non-U.S. infrastructure organizations (beyond membership fees), as they have since the founding of the European Foundation Centre in 1989. This is a critical time in the development of the global philanthropic infrastructure, however, and outside the U.S., that infrastructure is poorly resourced even as the demand and need for it increases.

In my next post, I'll take a look at some of the current trends in international grantmaking by U.S. foundations. In the meantime, feel free to comment below and/or drop me a note (ltm@foundationcenter.org) with your questions.

Headshot_Lawrence_McGillLarry McGill is vice president of knowledge services at Foundation Center. Foundation Center would like to thank the King Baudouin Foundation for support that helped make this series possible.

Finally! A Global (Data) Language!

October 25, 2017

Trying to get global consensus on anything is nearly impossible. But in collaboration with a dynamic cohort of individuals and organizations, we've managed to develop a new manifesto with respect to the structure and sharing of data about global philanthropy that is valued across contexts. Meet the new Global Philanthropy Data Charter.

GDC_infographic
Philanthropy, and more broadly, civil society, play a large and increasingly visible role in solving complex societal issues around the globe. Over the last twenty years, as private wealth in countries around the world has exploded, we've seen a significant increase in giving by institutions and individuals. At the same time, technology adoption and economic populism have emerged from the shadows while foreign aid to the least developed countries has declined. Established in 2000, the Millennium Development Goals paved the way, in 2015, for the multi-stakeholder Sustainable Development Goals. Each step in this evolution was guided by data. Good data? Not always. But in our rapidly changing world, everyone must tell their own story — or risk having it told for them. The good news? Philanthropy has had to become more transparent, more accountable, and more effective. Rather than siloed efforts, maximizing impact based on smart giving and shared learning has become a collective world-wide aspiration.

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'Foundation Funding for U.S. Democracy': What Does the Data Say?

July 27, 2017

The following post is part of a year-long series here on PhilanTopic that addresses major themes related to the center's work: the use of data to understand and address important issues and challenges; the benefits of foundation transparency for donors, nonprofits/NGOs, and the broader public; the emergence of private philanthropy globally; the role of storytelling in conveying the critical work of philanthropy; and what it means, and looks like, to be an effective, high-functioning foundation, nonprofit, or changemaker in the twenty-first century. As always, we welcome your thoughts and feedback.

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It's no secret that many Americans are wondering whether our democracy is still working. The signs of dysfunction are everywhere — allegations of election tampering, voter suppression, and "fake news" comprise a continuous soundtrack accompanying distressingly low levels of electoral turnout, ever more bizarre examples of gerrymandering, and perpetual government gridlock.

Concerns about U.S. democracy are on the minds of America's philanthropic institutions as well. We know, of course, about the "dark money" that is being pumped into the electoral process in an attempt to influence the outcomes of U.S. elections. But what about the efforts of U.S. foundations who see the task of improving U.S. democracy as an important part of their philanthropic missions? (And which, unlike dark money vehicles, are required to disclose information about their giving in publicly available tax documents.)

In partnership with eight foundations, Foundation Center, in 2014, developed Foundation Funding for U.S. Democracy, a free online portal that tracks the efforts of foundations to improve American democracy. The tool provides detail on more than 35,000 relevant grants, with additional data added regularly. (Next week, I'll be providing a tour of this mapping platform via a free webinar. Register here.)

Since 2011, U.S. foundations have spent more than $3.7 billion on efforts to improve our democracy. Our data show that foundations are almost equally focused on the areas of encouraging civic participationimproving how government functions at the national, state, and local levels; and supporting an accountable and democratic media, with about  a third of their democracy-focused grant dollars going to each area. Campaigns and elections, the fourth major area of foundation funding for democracy, received about 10 percent of democracy-focused grant dollars. (This adds up to more than 100 percent, because some grants address multiple issues.)

US Democracy_funding by category_fb

These findings suggest that important issues need to be addressed in all four areas — civic participation, government, media, and campaigns and elections — and that focusing on any single area isn't sufficient to ensure a well-functioning democracy. Civic participation funders are focused, in particular, on encouraging issue-based participation by the public; government-focused funders prioritize grantmaking in the area of civil liberties and the rule of law; media-focused funders split their grantmaking almost equally on strengthening journalism and improving media access and policy; and those focused on campaigns and elections are primarily funding activities to educate voters and increase voter turnout.

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Do You Know?

November 04, 2013

(Larry McGill is vice president for research at the Foundation Center.)

FCStats_about_illustrationRaise your hand if you know the answer to the following question: How many grant dollars did U.S. foundations award in 2011? Anyone?

Let me ask a different question. If you needed to find the answer to that question, where would you go? Foundation Center? Good -- you're on the right track. So, you visit the Foundation Center's Web site and where do you look? Not sure? In the past, you weren't alone.

But all that has changed. Today, the Center is launching a new, free statistical tool called "Foundation Stats" at data.foundationcenter.org.

The answer to almost every basic statistical question about the collective work of U.S. foundations can be found there. You don't have to buy any publications and you don't have to dig through thousands of static data tables on the center's Web site. Plus, you can download and reuse, for free, any of the statistics you find in Foundation Stats. You can even grab these statistics using an application programming interface (API), if you're so inclined.

Usually, I'm not so shamelessly self-promotional, but I can barely contain my excitement about Foundation Stats. Let me tell you why.

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