Foundation giving grows but slows

Foundation giving by a subset of the largest U.S. funders grew 6.1 percent to $16.4 billion in 2005, a slower pace than the 8.1 percent jump posted in 2004, a new study says.

The size of individual grants showed a greater increase than the overall number of grants awarded, with a record 308 donations of $5 million or more registered in 2005, says “Foundation Giving Trends,” a report published by the Foundation Center.

Natural disasters affected giving in 2005, with international and environmental causes posting the fastest growth in funding.

Grant dollars for international affairs, development and peace, jumped nearly 41 percent over 2004 to a record $591.2 million, the report says, spurred in part by donations to relief efforts after the Indian Ocean tsunami.

Driven by tsunami-related donations, international-affairs giving by corporate foundations outpaced that of other grantmakers for the first time.

The share of grants directed to capital projects rebounded after a five-year decline, reaching 18.5 percent of all grants in 2005, compared to 16.8 in 2004.

“Foundations appeared to be more optimistic, as indicated by the record number of very large grants and the rebound in giving for capital projects,” Josie Atienza, the report’s principal author and assistant director of research at the Foundation Center, says in a statement.

The study analyzed all grants of $10,000 or more awarded by 1,154 of the nation’s largest private and community foundations, representing roughly half of all U.S. foundation giving.

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