Sunday, May 18, 2008

Results of Foundation Center Study on America's Foundations' Level of Granting Given Today's Tough Financial Times

This Thursday I sat in on a Foundation Center "Outlook On Foundation Giving" webinar given by Steven Lawrence, the Senior Director of Research at The Foundation Center.

The Foundation Center conducts studies on various aspects of philanthropy, throughout the year, annually, and provides the findings in published reports, such as the Foundations Today Series.

Thursday afternoon's webinar was based on The Foundation Center's Foundation Growth And Giving Estimates Current Outlook 2008 Edition.

The good news is that according to their findings, The Foundation Center reported that:

"Although the economic outlook has worsened in 2008, findings from the Foundation Center's annual "Foundation Giving Forecast Survey" suggest that foundation giving will continue to grow in the current year. Overall, more than half of respondents expect to increase their giving, with the biggest foundations being most likely to expect increased giving." [The Foundation Center's Foundation Growth And Giving Estimates Current Outlook 2008 Edition, Key Findings page]

According to survey responses, in 2007, American community foundations increased their giving the most of all types of private foundations (other types include: family foundations, corporate foundations, etc.). Community foundations gave nearly 14% (13.9% estimated unadjusted for inflation) more donations, in the 2006 - 2007 fiscal year, compared to the previous fiscal year. [The Foundation Center's Foundation Growth And Giving Estimates Current Outlook 2008 Edition, Page 7]

Their findings indicate that foundations are increasing their donations (grant making).

Lawrence shared in the webinar that foundations determine their fiscal year's grants budget based on a rolling average of their assets over various numbers of previous fiscal years. Half of the respondents projected their grant giving based on the previous year's asset performance. One third based their giving on their assets' performance over the past two years, and the largest foundations based their grant budget on their assets' performance over more than previous two years (e.g. 2.5 years or more).

Finally, it was interesting to learn that while The Foundation Center, over its years of studying giving trends, has found that American foundations do not decrease their giving during years later to be determined national recessions; they do decrease their giving a year or two after a year of inflation, nationally. This may be good information to inform your grant raising strategy for your upcoming fundraising (or development) plan for fiscal budget goals to come.

If, later, 2008 is deemed a year of national fiscal recession (as we can suspect), the findings indicate that foundation's grant making will not decline, and in fact, will increase.

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