Grants outlook in Minnesota bleak

As tumbling stock markets continue to pummel foundation assets throughout the U.S., Minnesota funders are predicting a drop in grantmaking this year, a new study says.

Overall, foundation giving is expected to drop by about 4 percent in 2009, says the survey of grantmakers by the Minnesota Council on Foundations.

About four in 10 Minnesota grantmakers expect to award less this year than last, about the same number expect their grantmaking to be flat, and about 15 percent hope to give more in 2009.

“This is, of course, a snapshot in time,” Bill King, president of the council, says in a statement. “The giving picture may change with the economy throughout the year.”

The gloomy predictions are a result of declines in foundations’ assets during the second half of 2008, the report says, with more than half the respondents expecting further declines in 2009.

While corporate funders are more optimistic than private and community foundations, that may change if profits continue to slide, King says.

In addition to lower giving, grantmakers are predicting a shift in funding priorities as they try to address community needs and an increase in in-kind support to help nonprofit cope with the economic crisis.

The drop in assets, and the anticipated drop in grantmaking, follow a strong performance posted by Minnesota givers in 2006, says another study from the council.

Total giving in Minnesota, including individual as well as corporate and foundation contributions, grew to $5.2 billion in 2006, up 1.8 percent from 2005.

While individual donations were down slightly, growth in giving from corporations and foundations of 13.8 percent more than offset the drop.

Combined, foundation assets saw an increase of 8.4 percent over the same period, topping $17 billion.

“This look back to 2006 helps us examine long-term trends and gives some perspective on the inevitability of charitable-giving cycles,” says King. “Although our members are concerned about their capacity to give in the near-term, they remain committed to our community for the long-term.”

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