Foundations Announce Expectations for Future Giving in Light of Economic Conditions

New Foundation Center Research Advisory Provides an Overview

New York, March 4, 2009 — A new Foundation Center research advisory, “Grantmakers Describe the Impact of the Economic Crisis on Their Giving,” examines how foundations expect their 2009 giving to be affected by the economic downturn. The advisory looks at public statements made by more than one-third of the 100 largest U.S. foundations by giving and 35 other foundation and corporate funders that have described their plans, ranging from raising payout rates to reducing administrative costs to cutting programs altogether.

The advisory, by Lawrence T. McGill, senior vice president for research, and Steven Lawrence, senior director of research, is based on information available to date in the Center’s new online compilation of news and announcements about foundations’ response to the economic downturn, “In Their Own Words: 2009 Foundation Giving Forecast.”

“These grantmakers deserve credit for letting their grantees know what to expect over the coming year, so they can prepare,” said Lawrence. “A number of these funders are also belt-tightening to boost their giving, which clearly shows that we are all in this together.”

Of the 100 largest foundations ranked by total giving, the Center has tracked only two so far that have announced intentions to increase funding in 2009. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has said that it will increase giving in 2009 by raising its payout rate, while the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation expects to “maintain or increase” giving.

To keep giving stable in the face of shrinking endowments and assets, 10 large foundations are planning to increase their payout rates or establish cost-cutting measures such as freezing salaries, leaving staff vacancies unfilled, or reducing staff benefits. The Hewlett, Packard, and McKnight foundations have stated that they will reduce giving but will increase their payout rates to limit the amount of the reductions.

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