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WASHINGTON (AFP eWire - March 29, 2004) - There's good news and bad news in the recent report Foundation Giving Trends: Update on Funding Priorities issued by the Foundation Center in New York City. 'Foundations largely stuck by their missions and grantees in the bleak economic environment of 2002,' said Loren Renz, vice president for research at the Foundation Center. Nevertheless, foundations did make adjustments reflecting the economic climate. 'Given declining endowments, foundations shied away from making as many major capital commitments and tried to shore up grantees with increased operating support,' Renz added.

First, the good news. General operating support reached a record-high share (19 percent) of grant dollars in 2002 and 24 percent share of grants. In addition:

  • Among major recipient types, educational support agencies and community improvement organizations showed the fastest growth in funding in 2002.
  • Religion and science and technology also posted fast growth in grant dollars in 2002.
  • Among specified beneficiaries, for the first time the economically disadvantaged accounted for the largest share of grant dollars in 2002 (16.7 percent). Children and youth received 16.4 percent of grant dollar commitments but the largest share of the number of grants (more than 22 percent). Also, giving for gays or lesbians, crime or abuse victims, and the economically disadvantaged showed the fastest growth between 2001 and 2002.

Now the bad news. Total new grant commitments by a sample of more than 1,000 of the largest private and community foundations decreased 5 percent to $15.9 billion between 2001 and 2002. Also, the median grant size decreased to $25,000. The report also revealed that:

  • when looking at giving by subject focus, for the first time since 1994 health declined, slipping 15 percent to $2.9 billion.
  • capital support declined to a record-low 19 percent share of grant dollars in 2002.
  • support for people with AIDS, the disabled and single parents posted sharp declines.
  • overall international giving declined 11 percent to $2.2 billion, although giving to overseas recipients increased.

To read the entire report, which includes the survey methodology, visit the Foundation Center's website.

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