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Decline in 2009 Foundation Giving Steeper Than Anticipated, According to New Foundation Center Survey
Foundation Center

November, 2009

Foundation giving will likely decline by more than 10 percent in 2009, closer to the higher end of the 8 to 13 percent range estimated by the Foundation Center earlier this year. According to September 2009 survey findings released today in Foundations' Year-end Outlook for Giving and the Sector, foundation giving will also decline further in 2010, as previously predicted by the Center.

Despite reduced resources, more than three-quarters of the close to 600 respondents to the new survey expect that the field of philanthropy will become more strategic as a result of having weathered the crisis. The focus of long-term changes range from governance to grantee relations to investments.

"Foundations will be giving less than they expected at the beginning of the year," said Bradford K. Smith, president of the Foundation Center. "But many are rethinking their grantmaking so that fewer dollars will not necessarily mean less impact."

Most grantmakers believe that the economic crisis will actually strengthen the nonprofit sector. Some recommend that nonprofits pursue more creative fundraising strategies and less traditional sources of support, such as revenue-generating activities; develop concrete sustainability plans; and collaborate more. However, some funders expressed concern that nonprofits were not using the recession as an opportunity to review and rethink their activities.

"Our survey found that many foundations have made difficult strategic choices as a result of the economic crisis, including reducing staff," said Steven Lawrence, senior director of research at the Foundation Center and author of the advisory. "They expect that their grantees will be similarly committed to restructuring their operations to reflect the new reality."

The report can be downloaded at no charge from the Gain Knowledge area of the Center's web site.

This Foundation Center research advisory is the latest in a series that explores the impact of the economic downturn on the nonprofit sector. The advisories and the online chart "In Their Own Words: 2009 Foundation Giving Forecast" are available at the Center's Focus on the Economic Crisis web page, which offers a variety of resources to help nonprofits and foundations deal with the challenging economy. Also available there is the Center's interactive map that displays the most recent data available on U.S. foundation support for the crisis, totaling more than $427 million to date.

About the Survey

In September 2009, 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 2009 and 2010, changes in their strategies and operations as a result of the economic downturn, and the impact of the crisis on the foundation and nonprofit communities. A total of 593 foundations provided useable responses as of early October 2009. The Center's next Foundation Giving Forecast Survey will be conducted in January 2010, with results released in the March 2010 edition of Foundation Growth and Giving Estimates.

This study was made possible in part by support from The Wallace Foundation. The Foundation Center's Research Institute is funded in part by The Wallace Foundation, which supports and shares effective ideas and practices to help institutions expand learning and enrichment opportunities. To learn more, visit the Knowledge Center at www.wallacefoundation.org.

About the Foundation Center
Established in 1956 and today supported by close to 550 foundations, the Foundation Center is the nation's leading authority on philanthropy, connecting nonprofits and the grantmakers supporting them to tools they can use and information they can trust. The Center maintains the most comprehensive database on U.S. grantmakers and their grants — a robust, accessible knowledge bank for the sector. It also operates research, education, and training programs designed to advance knowledge of philanthropy at every level. Thousands of people visit the Center's web site each day and are served in its five regional library/learning centers and its network of more than 400 funding information centers located in public libraries, community foundations, and educational institutions in every U.S. state and beyond. For more information, please visit foundationcenter.org or call (212) 620-4230.



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