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Foundations Likely to Increase Giving in 2011

(Nov. 23, 2010) Giving by U.S. foundations is poised for modest overall growth in 2011, after remaining flat in 2010. But it may take several years for giving to match the peak level recorded in 2008, according to estimates reported by the Foundation Center.

Twenty-one percent of foundations surveyed said that they expect to increase their giving in 2011, whereas 15 percent said they expect to give less. Fifty-nine percent expect to give the same amount as in 2010. These figures represent responses from 714 foundations.

Foundation operations appear to have stabilized following cuts in staffing, travel, or other operating expenses by a majority of grantmakers. In a sign that foundations may be turning the corner, only 12 percent of respondents to the Center's September 2010 "Foundation Giving Forecast Survey" expect these operational changes to remain in place over the longer term. Among the changes that could persist: funders making fewer site visits to grantees, attending fewer conferences, eliminating print copies of annual reports, and moving to electronic grant applications.

"The foundation community is adapting in our dramatically changed environment," said Steven Lawrence, director of research at the Foundation Center and author of the advisory. "Even though the 2010 economy has been anything but predictable, foundations are working with greater efficiency, holding their giving steady, and a number are planning for growth."

Findings from the new report also indicate that about 40 percent of respondents have made some type of modification to their grantmaking priorities as a result of the economic crisis. However, less than 8 percent expect these to be long-term changes. The priority changes described by respondents range from providing greater support for safety net activities to tightening their grantmaking focus to eliminate funding that falls outside of their existing priority areas.

Moving Beyond the Economic Crisis: Foundations Assess the Impact and Their Response (PDF) can be downloaded at no charge from the Gain Knowledge area of the Foundation Center's web site.

About the Survey

In September 2010, the Foundation Center launched a special online update of its annual "Foundation Giving Forecast Survey" and made it available to approximately 5,000 large and mid-size U.S. independent, corporate, and community foundations. The survey included questions on the outlook for foundation giving in 2010 and 2011, changes in their grantmaking priorities and operations, and their response to specific needs created by the economic crisis. A total of 719 foundations provided useable responses as of mid-October 2010.

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