Funding for Native Americans dives

Native American funding
Native American funding

Foundation grantmaking targeted to Native American populations fell sharply in 2009, and giving as a share of funders’ overall grantmaking slid for the decade, a new report says.

Foundation giving for Native Americans totaled $68 million in 2009, down 30.8 percent from the $98.2 million awarded in 2008, says the report from the Foundation Center and Native Americans in Philanthropy.

The number of grants awarded dropped to 749 in 2009, down more than 10 percent from the 836 awarded in 2008.

And over the decade ending in 2009, grants to Native Americans as a percentage of overall foundation funding declined to 0.3 percent in 2009 from 0.5 percent 10 years earlier.

The sharp downturn in grant dollars in 2009 may be a result of the overall economic turmoil of the last few years, although the 30.8 percent decline was more than twice the 12.4 percent decline in across-the-board funding by foundations, suggesting that Native Americans may have been harder hit than other populations.

Funding for Native Americans is dominated by a handful of foundations, the report says, with the top 10 funders awarding 172 grants totaling $40.5 million, accounting for 59.5 percent of all dollars targeted to Native Americans.

That same group of funders awarded a median of 4.1 percent of their total grantmaking to Native Americans.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation awarded 23 grants totaling $10.2 million to Native American causes in 2009, more than any other funder, followed by the Ford Foundation, which awarded 28 grants totaling $8.9 million.

Twenty-seven percent of foundation dollars awarded to Native Americans was directed to education, more than any other subject area, followed by arts and culture, which received 18 percent.

The vast majority of 2009 grant dollars, more than three-quarters, was targeted for specific programs and support, while only 36.6 percent funded general operations.

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