Community foundations continue growth

Community foundations in the U.S. may be vastly outnumbered by other types of funders, but their influence is growing along with their grantmaking, which has outpaced foundations a whole once again, a new study says.

From 1990 through 2007, cumulative giving by community foundations grew 421 percent, compared to 194 percent for independent foundations and 91 percent for corporate funders, says “Key Facts on Community Foundations,” a report by the Foundation Center.

And while community foundation account for only 1 percent of U.S. funders, they contribute almost 10 percent of the grant dollars.

In 2007, total giving by community foundations reached an estimated $4.1 billion, up almost 14 percent over 2006, and almost two in three expect to give even more in 2008.

However, one in four community foundations expect their giving to be lower next year, the report says.

Last year’s strong showing is due in part to asset growth of 12 percent from 2005 to 2006 for the nation’s 717 community foundations, which together held assets valued at an estimated $49 billion as of 2006.

New gifts and bequests, which grew 8 percent to a total of $6 billion over the same time period, also pushed giving higher, as did strong payments from donor-advised funds.

Education, human services, and arts and culture, respectively, received the largest shares of community foundation dollars in 2006, the report says.

Corporate foundations were more likely to fund the arts and religion than were independent and corporate foundations, the report says.

Community foundations also were more likely to provide general operating funds in 2006 than were their peers.

The Greater Kansas City Community Foundation gave away $172 million in 2006, more than any other community foundation, off assets of just over $1 billion.

The New York Community Trust topped the list in terms of assets, which stood at slightly more than $2 billion, and it gave away $157.4 million in 2006.

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