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International giving strong

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International giving by U.S. foundations reached $3 billion for the fourth straight year, a new study says.

Despite the economic downturn, the rise in terrorist activity and the war on terror, says the International Grantmaking III study, which examines foundation trends, foundation grants overseas remained high, fueled in part by new funders, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

But the study, a collaborative effort of the Foundation Center in New York City and the Council on Foundations in Washington, D.C., says international giving has become more complicated.

Almost eight in 10 foundations surveyed say changes in the regulatory landscape, including one prohibiting foundations from funding groups that could be associated with terrorist activities, make international giving more difficult and could affect future overseas grantmaking, the study says.

It also shows international giving outpaced overall giving, rising 106 percent from 1998 to 2002, with almost half that gain from increased dollars from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, whose interest in AIDS and reproductive health care helped give health programs the largest share of overseas dollars, at 32 percent of the total.

Asia edged out Western Europe as the greatest beneficiary of U.S. foundation dollars, with 23 percent of the total, the study says, followed by Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Almost nine in 10 foundations say their international funding will stay the same or increase this year despite a struggling stock market that has reduced foundation assets.

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