Foundations weigh in on 2009 plans

While no foundation in the U.S. has been immune to the downward spiral of the economy, a few are working to maintain their 2009 grantmaking at 2008 levels, a new report says.

About 30 of the nation’s 100 largest foundations have submitted their funding intentions to the Foundation Center, which has compiled the data in its online resource, “In Their Own Words: 2009 Foundation Giving Forecast.”

Only the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has committed to increasing its funding this year, although the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation says it will “maintain or increase” its grantmaking.

Another 10 foundations hope to hold their grantmaking steady in 2009. Among those are the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, California Endowment, Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Kresge Foundation and Oregon Community Foundation.

To maintain their funding, some of these foundations are instituting internal cost-cutting measures, including freezing salaries and hiring, cutting retirement benefits and laying off staff.

Six foundations say they will cut funding this year, including the Starr Foundation, McKnight Foundation and Daniels Fund.

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and David and Lucile Packard Foundation both will cut grantmaking this year, but will increase their payout rates to minimize funding cuts.

Nine others have voiced commitment to their primary funding priorities but have not yet stated publicly whether they will cut grantmaking.

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