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Foundations rebound

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After two years of decreases in foundation giving, the 66,400 foundations in the U.S. are reporting growth in assets and grants, a new study says.

The report, “Foundation Growth and Giving Estimates, 2004 Preview,” published by the Foundation Center in New York, is based on a survey of independent, corporate and community foundations.

Overall, foundation giving grew 6.9 percent last year to $32.4 billion, a record high, reversing decreases posted in the two previous years, the study says.

Giving was fueled by growth in foundation assets, which rose 9.5 percent to $476 billion, buoyed by a recovering stock market and a 12.2 percent jump in new gifts, but have not recovered to their 2000 high.

The increase in giving did not keep pace with the growth in assets, in part because many larger foundations base their grant allocations on the average of several previous years’ assets, the study says.

Independent foundations, which make up almost nine in 10 of grantmakers and award three-quarters of all grant dollars, gave about $24.1 billion last year, up 6.8 percent from 2003, with assets growing 9.6 percent to $399.1 billion.

Corporate foundations posted a 4 percent increase in giving, totaling $3.6 billion, on assets of $15.4 billion, up 7.1 percent from the previous year.

Community foundations led funders in both giving and asset growth, increasing their grant dollars by 8.6 percent to $2.7 billion, the report says, while assets grew 14.7 percent to $34.2 billion, fueled by growth in existing assets and new gifts.

The study also found that almost seven in 10 foundations provide operating funds to grantees, with the largest funders, those granting $10 million or more in 2004, most likely to provide operating dollars.

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