New Studies on Philanthropic Giving Trends Show Hopeful Signs for Nonprofits and Communities in Need

Research looks at latest data on social justice philanthropy, flexible foundation grants

May 22, 2013, 08:00 ET from National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy

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WASHINGTON, May 22, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In 2011, the largest U.S. foundations gave $10.2 billion in grants to benefit underserved communities and $2.9 billion towards empowering them. These are among the new findings released today by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP; in its annual The Philanthropic Landscape ( series on key foundation giving trends.

In The Philanthropic Landscape: The State of Giving to Underserved Communities 2011 (, the philanthropy watchdog group notes that the share of foundation grant dollars reported as benefiting the poor, elderly, women and other marginalized groups was 42 percent, a slight increase from the 40 percent average in 2008–2010.

Foundation funding that sought to engage disenfranchised groups in addressing the problems their communities are facing declined to 12 percent of total grant dollars in 2011, according to The State of Social Justice Philanthropy 2011 (

Additionally, the sector saw an increase in the share of grant dollars reported as core support, from the 16 percent in 2008–2010 to 24 percent in 2011, as noted in The State of General Operating Support 2011 ( This is the first time that NCRP has documented this level of an increase in the proportion of grant dollars classified as general operating support.

Numbers from The State of Multi-Year Funding 2011 ( show that nearly 90 percent of foundations did not report any multi-year funding, consistent with previous analyses of such giving.

"There are some hopeful signs that more foundations are giving in ways that benefit those that need philanthropic support the most," said Aaron Dorfman, executive director of NCRP. "But only time will tell if the trend holds in the next several years."

Other important findings from the studies include:

  • Foundations in the South are less likely to report giving to benefit underserved communities, but one in five funders nationally provides at least 50 percent of grant dollars in this way.
  • While the share of reported grant dollars that serve a social justice purpose declined, among those grantmakers that do provide such funding the median rose from 4 percent to 7 percent in 2011.
  • Family foundations, Southern foundations and funders giving between $5–10 million were more likely to provide general operating support. A total of 127 grantmakers, or 11 percent, of the current sample of 1,121 foundations reported providing 100 percent of their grant dollars as core support.
  • Among those foundations that do report providing funding commitments that go beyond one year, such giving is consistent and at high levels. However, only 5 percent of the sample reported at least 50 percent of grant dollars as multi-year funding.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation, A Glimmer of Hope Foundation, Northwest Area Foundation and The Melville Charitable Trust were among the grantmakers that reported at least 50 percent in giving that explicitly benefited underserved communities as well as 25 percent toward social justice grantmaking.

The California Wellness Foundation, Weingart Foundation and The Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Foundation were the only funders that gave at least 50 percent of their grants in the form of general operating support as well as multi-year funding.

Each fact sheet includes a list of top funders for each type of giving by share and total amount.

The Philanthropic Landscape series, written by NCRP Research and Policy Director Niki Jagpal and Senior Research Associate Kevin Laskowski, are available for free at

About The Philanthropic Landscape

The Philanthropic Landscape ( is an annual series of fact sheets that analyzes the most recently-available data for the latest foundation giving trends. Don't miss these and forthcoming reports from NCRP; sign up to receive Roundup ( in your inbox today or follow NCRP on Twitter (@ncrp).

The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy in Washington, D.C., is a national watchdog, research and advocacy organization that promotes philanthropy that serves the public good, is responsive to people and communities with the least wealth and opportunity, and is held accountable to the highest standards of integrity and openness. Visit

SOURCE National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy