Foundation giving grows

Giving by the largest U.S. funders grew 8.1 percent to $15.5 billion in 2004, reversing a two-year decline, a new report says.

“Foundation Giving Trends: An Update on Funding Priorities,” released by the Foundation Center in New York, analyzed grant information from the 1,200 largest private and community foundations in the U.S.

The foundations studied awarded a total of 126,497 grants in 2004, up 4.8 percent from the previous year, the study says.

The area of health grew faster than any other, boosted in part by a $750 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Grants awarded in 2004 went to more than 52,000 different organizations, with educational groups receiving the largest share of funding, followed by human services groups.

Almost 47 cents of each grant dollar provided program support, but general-support grants reached a new high of $3.2 billion, the report says, while the share of dollars for capital needs hit a record low.

Children and youth received the largest share of funds among beneficiary groups, while gays, lesbians and AIDS sufferers saw the most growth in funding.

International giving reached a new high of $2.8 billion in 2004, with most of those funds benefiting U.S.-based recipients, the report says.

Independent foundations gave the largest share of their grant dollars to health groups, the study says, while corporate foundations favored educational groups and community foundations favored human services organizations.

Foundations in the Northeast represented the largest share of grants and grant dollars in 2004, compared to funders in other regions.

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