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Foundations grow quickly in L.A.

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Los Angeles experienced a surge in new foundations in the five years ended in 2007, accounting for increases of 50.4 percent in foundation assets in the region and 62.2 percent in foundation giving, a new report says.

Foundations created since 1990 account for over two-thirds of foundations in the region.

Still reflecting patterns elsewhere, the giving and assets of all Los Angeles foundations are highly concentrated among a few foundations, says Foundations for Los Angeles, 2007, a report by The Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy at the University of Southern California.

Los Angeles in 2007 was home to 2,412 foundations that held $43.4 billion in assets and made $2.2 billion in grants.

Foundations created since 1990 – 743 in the 1990s and another 704 from 2000 through 2007 – account for 37.4 percent of giving by all Los Angeles foundations and 33 percent of their assets.

The 10 foundations that gave the most accounted for 48 percent of giving by all foundations in the region, with the top 25 accounting for 58 percent, the top 50 accounting for 67 percent, and the top 100 accounting for 76 percent.

In contrast, 2,151 foundations with assets of $10 million or less, or 89 percent of all foundations in the region, account for 18 percent of all giving in the region.

“While the current economic climate has created a pause in the pace of growth, it is clear that the growth will continue over the long term,” says the report, written by James M. Ferris, director of the Center, and by Jeff Glenn and Lia Moore, research assistants at the Center.

A key question, it says, is whether younger foundations “will follow patterns of the foundations created in earlier decades and become endowed, or whether there is a new tendency to give during the lives of donors, altering predictions in the pace of growth in coming years.”

It also says the youthfulness of foundations also underscores “opportunities for a greater sharing of information among foundations that have common interests but are at different points in their life-cycle of organizational development (and possibly of different sizes). The potential payoff in community impact from increased coordination and collaboration among foundations could be substantial.”

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