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Giving by family funders drops

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Family foundations, which account for three-fifths of grantmaking by independent foundations in the U.S., fell 4 percent in 2009, a new report says.

The nation’s 38,701 family foundations awarded a total of $20.3 billion in 2009, down from the $21.1 billion awarded in 2008, says the report from the Foundation Center.

That’s a sharp turnaround from 2008, when grantmaking by family foundations grew 14.4 percent.

While family foundations’ assets grew 0.7 percent from 2008 to 2009 to reach $247.7 billion, gifts to family funders fell 9.5 percent, totaling $17.3 billion in 2009.

Larger family funders overwhelmingly preferred to support health and education over other areas, and were more likely to provide support for programs and general operations than for capital projects or research.

Grant dollars from large foundations also tended to be targeted to economically disadvantaged populations and to children and youth in 2009.

About three in 10 family foundations are fairly young, having been created in the 2000s, and almost half of funders awarded less than $50,000 in grants in 2009.

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