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Giving by community foundations grows

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Although U.S. community foundations together awarded a record $4.6 billion in grants in 2008, most anticipate grantmaking will fall this year, a new study says.

Giving was up by 6.7 percent from 2007 to 2008, or 2.7 percent after adjusting for inflation, fueled by asset growth and gifts and bequests from donors, says the report from the Foundation Center.

But almost three in four of the nation’s 717 community foundations expect giving to fall in 2009, while 17 percent anticipate giving more, and nine percent expect no change in their grantmaking.

Before the recession, community foundations had been performing well, with assets growing to a total of $56.7 billion, up 13.5 percent from 2006 to 2007, and gifts received growing 3.3 percent to $6.2 billion.

Community foundations now account for one in 10 foundation dollars awarded and, for the first time, they gave more than corporate foundations.

Education was the top priority for community foundations in 2007, receiving more than a quarter of grant dollars, followed by human services, which received 20 percent.

Giving for children and youth was a top priority, and program support was the favored grant type in 2007.

The Silicon Valley Community Foundation awarded a total of $243 million in grants in 2007, more than any other, while the Tulsa Community Foundation had the most assets of any community foundation, with $3.7 billion, as well as the most gifts received, with $372 million.

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