Giving by U.S. foundations totaled an estimated $46.9-billion last year, an increase of only 2 percent from 2010 and a more than 2 percent drop from 2009, according to a new study on foundation giving.
However, when inflation is taken into account, giving was actually down from 2010, the Foundation Center study says, signaling a continued rough road for charities that rely on foundation grants for the bulk of their support.
The survey shows that if the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation—the country’s wealthiest grant maker, with more than $37.4-billion in assets—had not been included, foundation giving would have decreased last year by about 3 percent, after accounting for inflation.
In addition, more than 33 percent of respondents gave less in 2011, likely the result of unchanged asset levels last year and little or no growth in assets since 2007, according to the report.
- Private and family foundations (which make up the majority of U.S. grant makers) increased their giving by less than 2 percent, to a total of $33.1-billion before accounting for inflation.
- Corporate foundation giving grew by 6 percent, to $5.2-billion before inflation.
- Community-foundation giving declined slightly, totaling $4.2-billion before inflation.
In light of the weak growth in giving, the report concludes that foundation giving will remain consistent with “very modest” growth next year.
The survey’s findings were based on responses from 1,077 U.S. foundations. There were more than 76,600 American foundations last year.
The Foundation Center’s report is available for free download. The Chronicle’s own comprehensive survey of giving by foundations was published in March.