U.S. Foundation Giving Held Steady in 2010

More than 76,000 U.S. grantmaking foundations gave an estimated $45.7 billion in 2010, virtually unchanged from 2009. According to Foundation Growth and Giving Estimates (2011 Edition), released today by the Foundation Center, 2010 giving remained just 2.1 percent below the record high of $46.8 billion awarded by foundations in 2008, despite the fact that foundation assets were still close to 10 percent below their 2007 peak.

More than 45 percent of respondents to the Foundation Center’s annual “Foundation Giving Forecast Survey” indicated that they had reduced their funding in 2010, but the actions of other grantmakers buoyed the field. “Foundations provided stability for nonprofits during a time of crisis,” said Bradford K. Smith, president of the Foundation Center. “Many made extraordinary efforts to maintain their giving levels, while other, often newer foundations even increased their giving.”

Other key estimates for 2010 include:

  • Independent and family foundations – which represent the vast majority of U.S. foundations – reduced their giving by less than 1 percent to $32.5 billion in 2010.
  • Corporate foundation giving remained basically unchanged at $4.7 billion in 2010.
  • Community foundation giving dipped 2.1 percent to $4.1 billion in 2010, the first consecutive-year decline on record.

Survey findings suggest that 2011 foundation giving will grow between 2 and 4 percent, which could propel it past the 2008 record level. Grantmakers also appear optimistic about 2012. Assuming no unexpected economic strife, foundation giving should realize another modest year-over-year gain.

“Over half of foundations we surveyed expect to increase their giving this year,” said Steven Lawrence, director of research at the Foundation Center and principal author of the report. “These additional dollars will help to seed the many promising endeavors put on hold during the depths of the economic crisis.”