Foundations Likely to Increase Giving in 2011

Giving by U.S. foundations is poised for modest overall growth in 2011, after remaining flat in 2010. But it may take several years for giving to match the peak level recorded in 2008, according to estimates reported by the Foundation Center in Moving Beyond the Economic Crisis: Foundations Assess the Impact and Their Response.

Foundation operations appear to have stabilized following cuts in staffing, travel, or other operating expenses by a majority of grantmakers. In a sign that foundations may be turning the corner, only 12 percent of respondents to the Center’s September 2010 “Foundation Giving Forecast Survey” expect these operational changes to remain in place over the longer term. Among the changes that could persist: funders making fewer site visits to grantees, attending fewer conferences, eliminating print copies of annual reports, and moving to electronic grant applications.

Findings from the new report also indicate that about 40 percent of respondents have made some type of modification to their grantmaking priorities as a result of the economic crisis. However, less than 8 percent expect these to be long-term changes. The priority changes described by respondents range from providing greater support for safety net activities to tightening their grantmaking focus to eliminate funding that falls outside of their existing priority areas.

This Foundation Center research advisory is the latest in a series that has explored the impact of the economic downturn on the nonprofit sector. The advisories are available at the Center’s Focus on the Economic Crisis web page, which offers a variety of resources to help nonprofits and foundations deal with the challenging economy. Also available on this page is the Center’s interactive map that displays the most recent data available on U.S. foundation support for the crisis, totaling $440 million to date. Moving Beyond the Economic Crisis: Foundations Assess the Impact and Their Response (PDF available for download).