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U.S. Foundation Giving Declines Slightly in 2003

WASHINGTON (AFP eWire, April 12, 2004) - Grantmaking foundations in the United States gave an estimated $29.7 billion to charities in 2003, a slight decrease from the $30 billion granted in the previous year.

According to Foundation Growth and Giving Estimates from the Foundation Center in New York City, the 2.5 percent drop in grants was primarily caused by three consecutive years of a sluggish economy and fluctuating stock market.

Community foundation funding actually rose slightly in 2003 to $2.57 billion, although the 1.5 percent increase represents the slowest growth in giving reported since 1994. Meanwhile, independent foundation giving declined 3.3 percent to $22.5 billion, while corporate foundation giving saw a 2 percent decrease, the first decline since the Foundation Center began tracking this data in 1987.

Despite the decreases, the report notes that the numbers are not as bad as they could have been. New grantmaking by recently established foundation, improved portfolio performance and a commitment by many foundations to maintain their levels of giving prevented even bigger decreases in funding.

Fortunately for the sector, the 2004 outlook is much better, according to the report. Foundation assets increased by an estimated 9 percent to 11 percent in 2003, a good sign that some increases in grantmaking will be seen in 2004.

Findings from Foundation Growth and Giving Estimates are based on actual 2002 giving and asset data tracked by the Foundation Center for all U.S. independent, corporate, and community foundations. Giving projections for 2003 and 2004 are based on estimates reported in the Center's 2004 Foundation Giving Forecast Survey by more than 900 large and mid-size foundations, combined with year-end fiscal indicators.

To read the entire report, go to the Foundation Center's website.

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