Foundation Giving Flat
…but Stable

Ann Fitzgerald President AC Fitzgerald author

Ann C. Fitzgerald, President

Foundations gave away $45.7 billion in 2010, nearly the same as 2009. Undoubtedly, many nonprofit executives were relieved to hear giving had stabilized. Foundations experienced a 17 percent drop in assets in 2008, as well as a modest decline in 2009, which affected many charities.

This information comes from the Foundation Center’s 2011 edition of “Foundation Growth and Giving Estimates: Current Outlook.” It reports that while giving by the nation’s 76,000 grantmaking foundations fell 0.2 percent last year, their assets grew an estimated 5.3 percent to $621.4 billion. This is the highest level since 2006.

What’s in store for 2011?

According to the Foundation Center’s “Foundation Giving Forecast Survey,” giving should grow between 2 percent and 4 percent in 2011. In addition,

  • About seven out of ten respondents to the survey expect either to increase their giving in 2011 (52 percent) or keep it about the same (17 percent).
  • Smaller foundations—those with less than $1 million in giving—were more likely to anticipate higher or consistent levels of giving this year (74 percent) than were foundations with more than $10 million in giving (55 percent).
  • About two-thirds of foundations expect to increase or maintain their giving this year.

What does this mean for your organization?

  • There are opportunities for grants, but you still need to have a compelling idea that matches the foundation’s interests.
  • Building and maintaining relationships with foundations remains extremely important.
  • Don’t ignore smaller foundations. Some of these are family foundations and should be cultivated more like individual donors.
  • Seek support from a wide range of sources. Foundations are important but individuals are responsible for 75 percent of the $300 billion-plus in annual U.S. charitable giving.

Ann C. Fitzgerald is Founder and President of AC Fitzgerald, using her decades of experience in fundraising, management, leadership, and sales to help nonprofits build their capacity and achieve success. She is a sought-after speaker, writer, and advisor.

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