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Foundations to give less in 2009

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Foundations in the U.S. lost a combined $200 billion in wealth in 2008, and almost two-thirds expect to reduce their grantmaking this year, a new report says.

Total assets for the foundation sector fell about 30 percent from a high of $682 billion at the end of 2007, and three in four funders saw their assets tumble by 25 percent or more, says a new report from the Council on Foundations, which surveyed 430 funders in March this year.

In response, almost half the funders surveyed say they plan to reduce grantmaking this year by 10 percent or more.

Almost four in 10 say they hope to hold steady or increase grantmaking this year.

To help conserve funds for grantmaking, most foundations have implemented internal cost-cutting measures, including salary and hiring freezes and trimming travel and conference attendance.

And more than nine in 10 foundations are working specifically to address the basic needs of families, low-income populations and others affected by the recession.

Of those, about one in three says it will spend more this year to help address basic needs like food, shelter, utility payments and employment.

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