International Giving By U.S. Foundations Down 4%
International giving by U.S. foundations in 2009 declined from the record level posted in 2008, but at a slower rate than the decline in domestic giving, according to a new report.

According to the International Grantmaking Update: A Snapshot of U.S. Foundation Trends, a new report prepared by the Foundation Center and the Council on Foundations, giving by U.S. foundations for international causes held nearly steady last year-to the surprise of many-generating $6.7 billion, down 4%. That's less than half the 8.4% estimated decline in foundation giving overall for 2009.

The news is encouraging, especially when compared to the significant growth in international giving experienced before the recession, between 2006 and 2008, when international grant dollars grew faster than overall funding among sampled foundations (49% versus 21%), according to the report.

Foundation Center President Bradford K. Smith noted, "Contrary to some fears, foundations did not abandon international grant making during the economic crisis. These findings demonstrate their firm commitment to addressing global issues." It is likely that international grant making will maintain and possibly increase its share of overall foundation grant dollars in the future, according to the report.

The report, which tracks giving for both U.S.-based international programs and overseas recipients-the former received about two-thirds of international grant dollars awarded by sampled foundations, while the latter received the roughly one-third of remaining dollars-is the latest update of the Foundation Center's series on international grant making. The update examines changes in overall giving by private and community foundations through 2009 based on a survey of leading funders.

These top funders include The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which awarded over $2.7 billion, accounting for more than two out of five international dollars in the center's 2008 grants sample. Yet international giving by other foundations in the sample grew even faster between 2006 and 2008 than did funding by the Gates Foundation (62% versus 39%).

As for where the charitable dollars were directed, health care (39%) captured the largest share of international support in 2008, followed by international development (21%) and the environment (17%). The report provides not only an analysis of patterns of U.S.-based international giving in 2008, and changes in funding priorities between 2006 and 2008, but information on international giving by foundations based outside of the United States. For information about the report and how to download it at no charge, go to the "Gain Knowledge" area of the Foundation Center's Web site at or call 212-620-4230.

In other news ...

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On The Move

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-Cort Smith