Philanthropy Statistics - Corporate and Community Foundations

philanthropy statistics

Foundation grantmaking seems to be stablizing, according to the State of Grantseeking Spring 2011 report that PhilanTech and GrantStation recently released.

While the information in that survey was drawn from grantseekers (nonprofits and other entities that are recipients of grants), new figures just published by the Foundation Center suggest that giving decreased in 2010, though it decreased less than it had the previous two years.  Reflecting a sense of cautious optimism, a slight majority of foundations expect their giving to increase in 2011.

A few numbers:

  • Corporate foundation giving increased 0.2% in 2010.  When adjusted for inflation, corporate foundation giving actually decreased by 1.6%;
  • The amount of corporate foundation giving - $4.7 billion - is virtually unchanged for the past couple of years;
  • 52% of corporate foundations expect their giving to increase in 2011;
  • Community foundation giving overall decreased 2.1%, following a 7.1% decrease the previous year;
  • Interestingly, community foundations reported a median increase of 2.5%;
  • While community foundation giving dropped from a high of $4.5 billion in 2008 to $4 billion in 2010, 50% of community foundations expect giving to increase in 2011, while an additional 16% predict that their giving will remain steady;
  • Community foundations represent the fastest-growing segment of foundation giving (adjusted for inflation) since 2000 (49% growth, compared to 24% for corporate foundations and 20% for independent foundations).

Both community foundations and corporate foundations currently account for approximately 10% of total foundation giving (with operating foundations accounding for another tenth, and independent foundations comprising the balance of foundation giving at approximately 70%). 

Given that independent foundations are the largest segment of foundation grant funds by quite a margin, it's difficult envisioning a return to pre-recession giving levels until foundation assets have recovered.  The good news is that foundation assets increased 5% in 2010; the bad news is that, at $621 billion, they are still quite shy of the pre-recession high of $682 billion.  With the rolling three-year average used by most private foundations to determine the 5% required annual expenditure, we may yet be in for a couple of years of recovery before foundation giving fully returns.


Author: Dahna Goldstein
May 02, 2011, 11:32 AM

Philanthropy Statistics – The New Normal

donations welcome

In the post-economic-collapse nonprofit world, nonprofit leaders and fundraisers are increasingly talking about “the new normal,” getting used to the fact that fundraising as we knew it pre-Lehman Brothers and pre-housing bubble burst is no longer our reality.

(Sean Stannard-Stockton, writing in the Chronicle of Philanthropy this week, traces the root of the term “the new normal” to Mohamed El-Erian in his book When Markets Collide.  Mr. El-Erian uses the term to describe the post-recession economy; others in our sector, including Bob Ottenhoff of GuideStar, have applied it specifically to the nonprofit sector.)

Numerous studies have shown that the economic recovery is slow, and economic recoveries in the nonprofit sector have historically lagged behind the economy as a whole.  Many other studies, including the State of Grantseeking 2010 (published by PhilanTech and GrantStation), have pointed to distressing numbers that continue to emerge relating to levels of giving and the difficulties nonprofits face securing enough resources to deliver critical programs.

The Chronicle this week indicated that, despite the much-lauded Giving Pledge, America’s wealthiest donors gave the smallest collective amount to charity that they have given since the Chronicle started tracking these large gifts in 2000.  (At $3.3B, it’s nothing to sneeze at, but still a decrease from years past.)

The Blackbaud Index of Charitable Giving, which analyzed giving information from 1,468 nonprofits, indicated that giving was up in 2010 over 2009 (for Sept – Nov), but only by 0.3 percent.

The Chronicle was more optimistic, indicating that 24% of charities in a recent survey said that year-end giving had increased by 20% or more over 2009 levels.  Within that optimistic report, however, another 28% of charities reported that giving had dropped over the prior year, and 10% noted that giving had remained flat.

I think there’s another factor to consider in the new normal: online giving.  While online giving remains a small percentage of individual donations to nonprofits, it is on the rise.  Network for Good’s Online Giving Index demonstrates some positive trends in online giving:

  • The value of donations through charity websites increased 13% over 2009.  An interesting and valuable note: donations through branded charity sites (i.e., sites that look like the nonprofit’s website rather than a generic donation page) increased 14% versus a 9% increase for a generic donation page;
  • In the height of giving season (just before the holidays), donations increased 18% over 2009;
  • While giving portals are increasing in popularity and use (e.g., about a quarter of the donations in December were through a charity portal), the average size of those donations was $155 versus an average $172 through a nonprofit’s website.

While the stats above are specific to Network for Good, individuals are giving through other online giving platforms as well.  For example, giving through grew 70% in 2010 to $30 million.

This (along with other studies) suggests to me that more online donations – though possibly at a lower average value – are becoming part of the new normal, and that nonprofits need to continue to cultivate multiple channels for donations, even as the economy continues to recover and nonprofits deal with smaller budgets than their pre-recession standings.

What do you think?  Is giving likely to return to pre-recession levels?  Is online giving becoming the new normal in charitable giving?


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Author: Dahna Goldstein
February 09, 2011, 11:17 AM

Good News, Bad News - Philanthropy Statistics

holiday birdhouse

It's that time of year when nonprofits and donors are thinking about year-end gifts.  Nonprofits have hopefully long since planned their year-end fundraising appeals, and are now just putting them in place (and not only hoping for good numbers, but working to make them happen) and donors are thinking about whether to make donations in lieu of gifts for the holidays (using sites like JustGive), or how to maximize their charitable tax deductions at the end of the year.

Just in time, comes some good news for nonprofits.  A recent study by the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund indicates that a majority of donors (55%) intend to maintain their level of charitable giving for the end of the year.  And for those reducing their giving (as a result of the financial markets or uncertainty in the tax environment), the vast majority say giving is still important to them (which may not be helpful for year-end fundraising goals, but bodes well long term).

Enough nonprofits are optimistic about the current state of fundraising that 47% of respondents to a recent survey are planning budget increases for 2011, while 33 percent anticipate maintaining their budgets at cuurent levels.

Now the bad news.  37% percent of respondents to the same study (The Nonprofit Research Collaborative's November 2010 Fundraising Survey) indicated that giving fell in the first nine months of 2010 as compared with the first nine months of 2009.  You may recall that 2009 was not a great year, so giving numbers continuing to fall in 2010 suggests that even more nonprofits faced budget shortages, had to cut back services, and have even steeper hills to climb to try to get back to their pre-recession funding levels.  Additionally, more organizations have laid off or cut back staff, and are using volunteers to fill roles that were formerly paid positions.  And not surprisingly, the organizations that are faring the best are the larger organizations, which is consistent with other research, including The State of Grantseeking 2010.

Here's hoping that the end of 2010 and start of 2011 will lean towards more good news than bad.


(Full disclosure, I serve on JustGive's board.)

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Author: Dahna Goldstein
November 29, 2010, 07:38 PM

Philanthropy Statistics – Giving In Numbers

numbers picture

The Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy released the “Giving In Numbers” report highlighting current trends in corporate philanthropy.

Among the findings:

  • 60% of surveyed corporations gave less in 2009 than they did in 2008.  Interestingly, the percentage of corporations that decreased giving the 2008, in the first big philanthropy hit of the financial crisis, was lower (46%);
  • Total giving by corporations increased 7%, which seems contradictory given the number of corporations that decreased their giving, but is accounted for by significant increases in pharmaceutical company donations (including large amounts of in-kind medicine donations) and increased company giving as a result of mergers and acquisitions;
  • A key point - and something that differentiates corporate giving (as a whole) from other types of institutional giving (as a whole) is the amount of non-foundation giving.  Corporate giving numbers include in-kind donations (frequenly product donations), matching gifts (from employee donations), company giving, and foundation giving.  There has been increasing talk about strategic alignment of corporate philanthropy (and corporate social responsibility) programs, which helps explain why product/in-kind donations may not always fall as quickly as cash donations, even in bad economic times;
  • That said, corporate foundation cash giving was the most stable giving source (i.e., fluctuated the least) of the different giving sources examined in the survey.

The report indicates corporations' dedication to continuing to support their communities, particularly in difficult economic times, which I find encouraging, particularly if those corporations are finding strategic alignments for their philanthropy -- making philanthropy not an afterthought, or something good to do, but something that is a necessary part of the way they do business.

Nonprofits seeking donations from corporations should take away a few key points -- that they should not necessarily rely on continued corporation support, that they should focus on aligning their proposals with corporations' strategic objectives, and that they should find the companies in their communities that are committed to serving the type of organization that is looking for funding.  In addition, grantseekers should think about what non-cash benefits and relationships they might be able to form on an ongoing basis with companies in their communities.


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Author: Dahna Goldstein
November 02, 2010, 02:00 PM

The State of Grantseeking 2010

grantseeking report cover

PhilanTech and GrantStation are pleased to announce the release of The State of Grantseeking Report.

Between August 7 and September 7, 2010, PhilanTech and GrantStation conducted an online survey to take a snapshot of the state of grantseeking in the U.S.  The 839 respondents ranged from volunteer-run grassroots organizations to large national nonprofits.  

Other surveys and studies published in the last several months have reflected the challenging state of fundraising in the current economy.  Donations across the sector, regardless of the source, have been reduced as a result of the economy, and many nonprofits continue to struggle.

Our survey results were consistent with other findings.  Nonprofits face challenges in grantseeking: organizations spend a lot of time preparing grant requests, submit many applications, and may only get a few small grant awards as a result:

  • 42% of survey respondents said that in comparison with the first six months of 2009 the grants awarded were smaller;
  • Small nonprofits seem particularly challenged; 26% of nonprofits with budgets under $50,000 had not submitted a grant request in 2010, while 95% of respondents with budgets over $250,000 had;
  • Many of the grants awarded were under $10,000, including 161 under $1,000;
  • A “typical” nonprofit in this survey is receiving grants between $7,310 and $50,000;
  • The good news is that the majority of the organizations that submitted multiple requests received at least one grant.

While it’s still tough going out there for many grantseekers, we hope the results of this survey will be useful for grantseekers in thinking about how to prioritize their grantseeking activities, and we look forward to following up this research with the next State of Grantseeking survey in early 2011.

Download the full State of Grantseeking Report.

Author: Dahna Goldstein
October 12, 2010, 09:12 AM

Philanthropy Statistics Update – Giving Trends and the Economy

numbers in boxes

Following up on last month’s post about philanthropy statistics, here are a few more, drawn from the Foundation Center’s Highlights of Foundation Giving Trends, and GuideStar’s The Effect of the Economy on the Nonprofit Sector:

  • From the Foundation Center:
    • In 2008, 164,353 grants were awarded by a sample of 1,490 large foundations to 63,794 recipient organizations;
      • The average number of grants awarded by each of those 1,490 large foundations was 110;
    • The amount of grant dollars dedicated to program support (~50%) and general support (~19%) remained consistent with the previous year’s numbers;
    • All foundation types (independent, corporate, and community) prioritized giving for education and human services.  Independent foundations also prioritized giving for health, though that data could be slightly skewed by the large number of dollars the Gates Foundation has poured into health funding;
  • From the GuideStar survey:
    • 40% of respondents say that total contributions to their organizations decreased in the first five months of the year, compared to the first five months of 2009, while 28% stayed the same;
      • A previous GuideStar survey, whose results were released around the same time last year, found that 52% of respondents said that total contributions to their organizations had decreased compared to 2008.  The fact that fewer nonprofits are now reporting decreases is somewhat encouraging, but does not imply that those nonprofits that did not report a decrease this year are necessarily in good shape from a fundraising perspective;
    • Decreases in individual giving where the top-cited reasons for contributions decreasing (both fewer gifts and smaller gifts);
      • Given that individuals make up the largest percentage of donations to nonprofits, this is not surprising;
    • Corporate gifts and foundation grants also happened in fewer numbers and for fewer dollars;
    • Though fewer grants were awarded, 41% of grantmakers reported that the number of requests they received increased;
    • 62% of grantmaking organizations (both private foundations and grantmaking public charities responded to the survey) indicated that they had not made any major changes to their grantmaking practices.  Last year, 43% of grantmakers had made changes as a result of the economy.  In 2009, 20% said they had cut back on the types of programs they funded; this year, that number was down to 12%.  Here’s hoping it’s 0% in the next survey.


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Author: Dahna Goldstein
August 25, 2010, 03:59 PM

Philanthropy Statistics - A Few Numbers to Share



A few interesting philanthropy statistics:

  • 98,428 grantmakers (Foundation Center)
  • 114 new grantmakers in the past month (Foundation Center)
  • 997,579 public charities (National Center for Charitable Statistics)
  • 293,000 nonprofits that could lose their exempt status due to not meeting new IRS filing requirements (National Center for Charitable Statistics)
  • Over 372,000 grants awarded in 2008 by foundations (from Foundation Center data, some analysis mine)
  • Charitable giving dropped 3.9% in 2009 (GivingUSA)
  • Corporate giving rose 5.5% in 2009, fueled in part by in-kind giving (GivingUSA)
  • Total giving in the US was an estimated $303.75 billion (GvingUSA)
  • Of that, individuals are by far the largest single component.  Foundation and corporate giving was $52.54 billion, which is nothing to sneeze at (GivingUSA; sneezing comment mine)
  • Only 3-4% of donors do research on nonprofit performance before they give, yet 85% say they care about an organization's performance (Hope Consulting, referenced on

I'll track changes in these stats periodically.  If there are other philanthropy statistics you want to know about, leave a comment and I'll see what I can find.



Foundation Center

National Center for Charitable Statistics


Hope Consulting

Tactical Philanthropy

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Author: Dahna Goldstein
July 08, 2010, 05:40 PM

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