Study Identifies Patterns in Rural Grants

A study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service suggests that grants to rural-based organizations are on the decline.  The report, Foundation Grants to Rural Areas from 2005 to 2010: Trends and Patterns by John Pender, examined data on grants from the Foundation Center (of at least $10,000 awarded by the largest private and community U.S. foundations between 2005-2010), the National Center for Charitable Statistics, the Census Bureau, and USDA’s Economic Research Service to identify patterns grant distribution to rural communities in the United States.

Although 19 percent of the country’s population is located in rural areas, Pender concludes that grant funding “to rural-based organizations accounted for 5.5 percent of the real value of domestic grants by large foundations during 2005 to 2010, with a slight downward trend (based on Foundation Center data on grants by the largest 1,200 to 1,400 foundations).”  A random sample of large foundations found that 6.3 percent of the total value of grants awarded in 2010 went to organizations in rural areas. Analysis using a sample of small foundations found the rural share of total grant value went from 7.5 percent in 2005 to 7 percent in 2010. During this time period the majority of grants to rural communities came from independent foundations.

Other findings from the study:

  • The average dollar value per person of grants from large foundations to rural organizations was $88, versus $192 per person in metro counties.
  • Counties with more college-educated residents (even when grants to universities and students were removed from the sample) received more grants per person.
  • Rural organizations received more grants related to higher education, environment, and recreation/leisure than their urban counterparts.



Report Citation:  Pender, John L. Foundation Grants to Rural Areas Frrom 2005 to 2010: Trends and Patterns, EIB-141, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, June 2015.

Study Asks: Why are Black Professionals Leaving Philanthropy?

Recent high-profile hirings and movements to tweak what philanthropy “looks like” aside, new data indicate  that an emerging trend in grantmaking is the decline of Black professionals within the field. The Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE)  and members of the Black Philanthropic Network teamed up to take a deeper look at why Black professionals were leaving the philanthropic arena, where they ended up and what organizations could do to address this recent pattern.

Main findings from the report, The Exit Interview: Perceptions on Why Black Professionals leave Grant making Institutions:

  • 72 percent of respondents (the majority of whom had been or currently were in a leadership position at a grantmaking organization) believed that leadership roles for Black professionals  were not substantial within philanthropy
  • 22 percent stated they were “pushed out” of their recent position in philanthropy
  • 48 percent agreed or strongly agreed that employment outside of a philanthropic institution allowed for more on-the-ground work and contact with the community, another 32% agreed somewhat
  • Over 60 percent of respondents left philanthropy for employment with a nonprofit organization

Additional study findings, perspectives from former foundation professionals, a look a regional differences in urban philanthropy (including Pittsburgh) and recommendations regarding organizational leadership, accountability and professional growth in the complete report at the ABFE website.

Is Giving Bouncing Back from the Recession?

The Great Recession did a number on charitable contributions, with the rate of total giving dropping over 13 percent (combined) during 2008 and 2009.  Although charitable giving has yet to return to pre-recession levels, new data indicate that it may not take long to reach that mark.

Estimates recently released by the Giving USA Foundation and the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy suggest that individual giving played a significant role in the 4.4 percent increase in overall giving in 2013.   Corporate giving declined by 2 percent last year, while foundation giving increased by over 5.5 percent. Individual giving increased almost 4.5 percent and made up the largest portion of contributions.  The report,  Giving USA 2014: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2013, is available on the Giving USA website.

The Foundation Center has posted a preview of their Key Facts of U.S. Foundations 2014 report  that gives an optimistic view of giving trends, even while noting that 11,000 more foundations were included in the upcoming report than in 2008, including some created by pharmaceutical companies specifically to distribute product. Also, though foundation giving appears to have increased in 2013, it must keep ahead of inflation rates to be meaningful.  Still, based on the strong stock market, replenished endowments, and positive trends in individual giving, the forecast for foundation giving looks to be one of steady growth.


Study Indicates Slowdown in Social Justice Philanthropy

A new report on grantmaking and the recession, The Impact of the 2008 Financial Crisis on the Field of Social Justice Philanthropy, by Sara K. Gould, an Atlantic Philanthropies Senior Fellow at the Foundation Center, warns of increasingly difficulty in securing funding for social justice causes and organizations.

The researchers examined giving data from foundations across the United States with histories of philanthropy in the area of social justice; the sample represented over $760 million in giving, or 25 percent of all social justice philanthropy in 2009.  Highlights of the study include:

  • The majority of foundations  responded that they faced the economic downtown with plans to maintain their levels of grantmaking, even in the face of shrinking assets. Still, in 2009, grantmaking decreased to below 2007 levels, with small foundations experiencing the largest drop.
  • Foundations with less than $50 million in assets have been the most seriously depleted by the downturn and will continue to struggle for the next few years. Nonprofits that may rely heavily on these smaller, local funders for support may be greatly affected by this development.
  • Barring high performance in investment returns, social justice grants and funding will likely not return to 2008 levels before (or by) 2015.

This report is full of valuable information on social justice giving trends and the strategic maneuverings of foundations as the recession hit, and  is available for download at the Foundation Center website.