Foundation giving down

Giving by the largest U.S. foundations fell 10 percent in 2003, a new study says, but general operating grants rose to record levels and some funding areas saw increases.

The Foundation Center report, “Foundation Giving Trends,” analyzes all grants of $10,000 or more made by the largest 1,010 foundations in the U.S.

In 2003, those foundations awarded grants totaling $14.3 billion, about half the total awarded by all U.S. foundations, the study says.

Grants for operating support represented 22 percent of dollars given in 2003, a record high, while the share of grants for capital projects reached an historic low of 17 percent.

General funding priorities held, with education receiving the largest share of grant dollars, 25 percent, followed by health, 20 percent, but the number of grants awarded decreased in almost all fields.

Giving in all major fields declined, except for “public affairs/society benefit,” which includes fields like voter education/rights, which saw a tripling of grant dollars from 2002 to 2003 to more than $15.7 million, in response to the 2004 elections, the report says.

Disaster preparedness, a subcategory of human services, also grew, almost quadrupling to $24.2 million.

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