Los Angeles foundations growing

Over the past decade, Los Angeles-area foundations have experienced significant growth, but not enough to match state and national trends, a new study says.

The report, “Foundations for LA? An Analysis of Scale, Scope and Reach of Foundation Philanthropy in LA County,” was released by the Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy at the University of Southern California.

The center used data from the Foundation Center in New York City regarding all independent, corporate, operating and community foundation making grants in the L.A. area.

In 2002, 2,077 foundations were based in Los Angeles, up two-thirds since 1992, the study says.

Combined assets over the same period doubled to $25.8 billion and grantmaking increased over two-and-a-half times to $1.2 billion.

Yet, Los Angeles-based foundations represent a decreasing number of foundations in California as a whole, the study says.

To explain this trend, the study points to foundations’ age, with two in three Los Angeles funders established less than 15 years ago, and the fact that a handful of foundations represent the majority of assets and giving.

The Los Angeles area also is a net exporter of funds, the study says.

The study analyzed grant data from subset of 48 foundations that together awarded a total of $667 million in grants in 2002.

More than four in 10 of those grant dollars went to local nonprofits, almost a third went to nonprofits in other counties, and just over a quarter went to nonprofits outside the state.

Funding priorities for foundations focused on local needs, especially health, education and arts and culture, the study says, while subject areas that are less localized depended more on out-of-state foundations for funding.

The study “highlights opportunities for increasing the potential of philanthropy as a source of venture capital for Los Angeles communities,” James Ferry, director of the Center of Philanthropy and Public Policy, said in a statement.

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