Funders online – Print reporting slips

Big U.S. foundations increasingly are turning to the Web to reach the public, although fewer are reporting their activities in print publications, a new survey says.

The number of Web sites published by foundations with at least $100,000 in giving, or holding $1 million or more in assets, grew by more than 200 to 1,072 in 2001, says the survey by The Foundation Center.

During the same period, the number of foundations issuing annual reports or other publications fell to 3,239 from 3,419, the Foundation Center said – the first decline since the group started tracking public reporting by foundations in 1985.

The number of foundations issuing annual reports grew slightly to nearly 1,500.

“This one-year decrease in the overall number of foundations issuing publications does not represent a reversal of the trend toward greater public reporting,” says Loren Renz, vice president for research at the Foundation Center.

“On the contrary,” she says, “more foundations than ever maintained Web sites in the latest year, and the number of foundations issuing annual reports continued to grow.”

Foundations more likely to issue publications included those with assets of $100 million or more, those established before 1950, community foundations and foundations in the West and Midwest.

Among foundations publishing Web sites, 156, or roughly one in seven, used Web sites as their exclusive means for voluntary public reporting.

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