Grantmaking Up In Pacific Northwest

April 12, 2017       Mark Hrywna      

Grantmaking in the Pacific Northwest jumped by more than 40 percent between 2012 and 2014, with health and education accounting for the largest portion of funding.

Giving in the region is dominated, as usual, by the world’s largest foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Even without including the Seattle, Wash.-based foundation, grant dollars to the region increased by 13 percent, according to the latest sixth edition of “Trends in Northwest Giving” by Philanthropy Northwest, in collaboration with the Foundation Center.

The biennial report compiled a snapshot of $1.8 billion through nearly 47,000 grants by more than 4,000 funders in 2014 across six states: Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming.

While giving to the Northwest by foundations of all kinds rose by double-digits from 2012 to 2014, giving to public charities declined by 1 percent. During that period, giving to health more than doubled, up by $302 million. Public affairs jumped 59 percent, or less than $6 million, although it’s a relatively small amount, the report indicated it’s likely to grow as more foundations “explore public policy and advocacy efforts.”

Giving to education jumped by 31 percent, or $50 million, and to agriculture, fishing and forestry, by 30 percent, or almost $3 million. Of the 13 areas tracked, only four saw declines in giving: information and communication, down 45 percent or $6.6 million; human rights, 23 percent, or $5.5 million; philanthropy and nonprofit management, 3 percent or $1 million, and environment and animals, 2 percent, or $1.5 million.

Of the $1 billion in grant dollars from family foundations in 2014, slightly more than half represents the Gates Foundation’s support of activities and programs in Oregon and Washington. The next largest funders in the Northwest were independent foundations, accounting for $338 million, or 19 percent, followed by community foundations, $177 million, or 10 percent.

Corporate philanthropy made up about 8 percent of giving, topping $152 million, dominated by two local corporations. Microsoft and The Boeing Company accounted for more than half of the corporate giving, with $42.6 million and $39.3 million, respectively.

Most grants made in the region were for less than $10,000, with a median size of grants of $5,000. More than 90 percent of the almost 40,000 grants analyzed were for $100,000 or less. About 44 percent of dollars came from 176 grants of $1 million or more.

The Gates Foundation made the largest grant, giving $156 million to PATH, a Seattle, Wash.-based international health organization. Health and education comprised the largest piece of the giving pie in 2014, at 38 percent and 19 percent, respectively. Excluding Gates funding, the two still accounted for 22 percent and 18 percent, respectively.

Education topped giving priorities at $254 million (not including Gates funding), followed by health, $201 million; human services, $170 million; environment and animals, $118 million, and arts and culture, $88.5 million.

Foundations and corporate funders allocated the greatest proportion of grant dollars to program development, about $850 million of $1.8 billion, followed by research and evaluation, $494 million.

Grants by the top 10 funders to the Northwest accounted for more than half of the giving in the region, including one-third by the Gates Foundation alone, at $521 million. The Oregon Community Foundation was second at $81.5 million, followed by the Schwab Charitable Fund, $53.2 million, the Seattle Foundation, $47.8 million, and Microsoft, $42.6 million, and United Way of King County, $41.5 million.

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