Family Foundation Giving Up Sharply

America’s family foundations gave away $16 billion in 2006, a 13 percent increase from the previous year, according to Key Facts on Family Foundations, released last week by the Foundation Center. Since 1998, the first year for which statistics on family foundations are available, giving by these grant-makers has more than doubled. Family foundations also accounted for the bulk of giving (59%) by independent foundations.

According to Steven Lawrence, senior director of research, “Despite the economic fluctuations since the start of the 2000s, donors and donor families have continued to establish new foundations and build the endowments of their existing foundations. We expect these trends to continue to boost family foundation giving for the foreseeable future.”

Among the key findings:

  • 67 percent of all family foundations have been established since 1990.
  • The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation ranked as the largest family foundation by giving and assets in 2006.
  • Many family foundations are small, with 48 percent giving less than $50,000 annually.
  • Education was the top funding priority of family foundations located in the Northeast, Midwest, and South, while health accounted for the biggest share among Western family foundations, largely due to the Gates Foundation.

Key Facts on Family Foundations identified 37,800 independent foundations with measurable donor or donor-family involvement. The fact sheet examines giving by recipient type, type of support, population group served, and geographic location. It also details differences in the size of the boards and staff of family foundations and lists the top 25 family foundations by giving.

Click below to read the report.

Key Facts On Family Foundations 2008