Giving by U.S. foundations for international purposes held virtually steady last year, generating $6.7 billion, down just 4 percent. According to International Grantmaking Update: A Snapshot of U.S. Foundation Trends, a new report prepared by the Foundation Center in cooperation with the Council on Foundations, this decrease was less than half the 8.4 percent estimated decline in foundation giving overall last year.

The slight decrease in international giving in 2009 followed a period of significant growth between 2006 and 2008, as documented in the new report – which tracks giving for both overseas recipients and U.S.-based international programs.

Other key findings of the report include:

  • International grant dollars grew faster than overall funding between 2006 and 2008 among sampled foundations (49 percent versus 21 percent).
  • The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded over $2.7 billion, accounting for more than two out of five international dollars in the 2008 grants sample.
  • International giving by other foundations in the sample grew faster than funding by the Gates Foundation between 2006 and 2008 (62 percent versus 39 percent).
  • Health captured the largest share (39 percent) of international support in 2008, followed by international development (21 percent) and the environment (17 percent).
  • U.S.-based international programs received approximately two-thirds of international grant dollars awarded by sampled foundations, while overseas recipients received the roughly one-third of remaining dollars.
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