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Colorado funders expect to give as much or more

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Sixty percent of Colorado foundations surveyed expect to give as much more in grants to nonprofits in 2010 as they did a year ago, a new survey says.

The survey, by the Colorado Association of Funders, also finds that while over 35 percent of foundations surveyed say the volume grant requests from nonprofits have stayed the same, 58 percent say inquires about funding are up moderately to dramatically.

“A majority of Colorado’s foundations have stepped up during the current economic downturn to help meet increased needs for such basics as food and shelter,” Irene M. Ibarra, board chair for the association and president and CEO of The Colorado Trust, says in a statement.

“And, in spite of significantly diminished resources,” she says, “most foundations have been able to stay the course and honor their long-term commitments to improve communities and the live of Coloradans.”

Foundations also are offering more flexibility to help nonprofits meet increased needs, the association says, letting them decide how to spend grant funds that otherwise would be restricted, for example, or letting them put part of a grant toward covering operating expenses.

A separate tracking study by the association says total giving by Colorado foundations totaled nearly $700 million a year in the most recent reporting period, which included 2007 and 2008.

That was up 30 percent from the previous study two years earlier.

And while Colorado foundations held roughly $10 billion in assets, they posted a median drop of 16 percent in 2008, reflecting the onset of a plunge in financial markets, after showing a median increase of nearly 7 percent in 2007.

“While many foundations have attempted to stay the course or step up giving during the recent economic downturn, they woun’t be able to meet the gorwing demand for programs and services alone,” Joanne Kelley, executive director of the Colorado Association of Funders, says in a statement.

Individual donors “continue to provide roughly 75 percent of the charitable dollars that support a wide range of nonprofits throughout Colorado,” she says.

“Increasingly,” she says, “all of us, from the public and private sectors alike, will need to find innovative ways of working together to solve Colorado’s most pressing problems.”

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