Monday, April 09, 2007

First Increase In U.S. Grantmaking In Double Digit Growth Since You Know When

In 2001, I had recently began my fundraising career. 9/11 changed our lives, our perception of the world, and like other industries, it impacted American fundraising directly. Most Americans donated to needy victims' families and first responders' groups. The American Red Cross received a large percentage of donations, even at the expense of other non profits and their causes. I'll never forget a volunteer board member who I met at a fundraising conference, shortly after 2001, saying to me, 'you new fundraisers learning today will have an exciting career - you have nowhere to go but up'! After 9/11, for the first time in the history of American philanthropy, giving dropped. It had never happened before. The volunteer that I met was right; we were down from where we had been donating and fundraising. Up was the only way to go.

So, it is with great enthusiasm and relief that I read that a 2007 Foundation Center report found that this is "...the first time U.S. foundations have reported consecutive years of double-digit growth in giving since 1996-01."

The Foundation Center ( summarized the Center's recent publication Foundation Growth and Giving Estimates: Current Outlook (Foundation Center Press Release 4/03/07) in their weekly "Philanthropy News Digest" April 3, 2007; Vol. 13, Issue 14. The findings are from the responses from 875 mid to large sized American foundations.

Other Current Outlook Estimates include:

- 71,000 U.S. grantmaking foundations' giving rose to an estimated $40.7 billion in 2006; an 11.7 percent increase from 2005

- 90% of all U.S. foundations are family foundations which increased their giving 10.3% in 2006

- Corporate foundations' giving grew 6% in 2006, after giving 16.5% more in 2005

- Community foundations' giving grew the most at 13.2%

- Overall, American foundations' assets grew by 10 - 12%

- Nearly 60% of those foundations surveyed expect their giving to increase: "and overall funding is likely to continue to grow at a double-digit pace."

Interestingly, the respondents attributed their increases to higher stock market earnings, newer foundations started in the early 2000's, elevated pay out rates, and the existence of pharmaceutical manufacturers' foundations. "New analyses show that twelve pharmaceutical foundations established in the 1990s and early 2000s to distribute medications to patients with financial hardships accounted for close to 9 percent of 2005 foundation giving."

"The foundation community is both larger and more diverse than was true in the past, which makes its giving less predictable," said Foundation Center president Sara Engelhardt. "Neither stock market performance, a single wealthy donor, nor one type of foundation alone drives current trends." "Foundation Giving Continued Double-Digit Growth in 2006."

Foundation Center Press Release 4/03/07.

This kind of news allows us grant writers to estimate how much can likely be raised, annually, in grants by the non profit that we work for. Giving is up. We who are fortunate enough to work for well run, honest, effective, successful, and strong non profits can expect that for each of our new programs there will be a health interest in collaboration (i.e. grant giving) from our communities. Our experience is looking up!

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