Philanthropic giving down since recession
The recent recession abruptly reversed the upward trajectory of philanthropy witnessed in the region between 2004 and 2008. This fact is made clear in the 2012 Trends in Northwest Giving report published by Philanthropy Northwest this April. The report analyzes more than $1 billion in grants made from foundations and corporations to the region’s nonprofits in 2010. The data reflects only the activities of organized philanthropy (which represents less than 20 percent of all giving, according to Giving USA) and does not reflect individual giving. It analyzes giving to all nonprofits in our region, including those focused on education, environment, arts, culture, international, and health and human services. Human services accounted for 18 percent of all northwest grant dollars (and 32 percent of all grants).
Overall, grantmaking declined from 2008 to 2010 among philanthropic organizations that gave both years, reducing their grant dollars by almost 14 percent (excluding grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation). Remarkably, corporate giving increased by 15 percent within this same time period, suggesting that corporate foundations and corporate giving programs are quicker to respond to economic shifts. Fortunately for Washington state, corporate giving increased by 40 percent in 2010, thanks largely to the generosity of Microsoft and Boeing. In contrast, corporate giving in Alaska declined by 64 percent.
Twenty-three funders accounted for 71 percent of total grant dollars in the northwest, and grants from ten foundations comprised nearly half of all giving in the northwest in 2010. The median grant amount in 2010 was $8,000.
The recession also slowed the prevalence of capital grants in the northwest, reducing the percentage of dollars granted from 21 percent of the total in 2008 to 14 percent in 2010. Additionally, the poor economic climate appears to have prompted more grants for community improvement and economic development—these grants grew from $28.7 million in 2008 to $41.1 million in 2010. Several large funders, including the Northwest Area Foundation, Rasmuson Foundation, Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Annie. E. Casey Foundation and Kellogg Foundation awarded significant grants to community development corporations, small business development programs and social entrepreneurship activities, many of which are connected to native communities.
While the data in the report is from 2010, anecdotal information suggests that the trends identified continue today. Like so many other reports, Trends in Northwest Giving suggests that our nonprofit infrastructure is under enormous stress. By all accounts, demand for services is up at the very moment fundraising is most difficult. Because only 12 percent of all dollars granted by corporations and foundations are directed to general operating expenses (and 51 percent of grant dollars supported specific programs), more and more nonprofits are building special campaigns to attract those dollars. These campaigns are built around specific programmatic themes or to build the organization’s overall capacity.
Stay tuned in to the Philanthropy Northwest blog to hear perspectives on the Trends report from grantmakers across the region and to view the soon-to-be released infographics that highlight some of the most interesting findings from the report.