Small to mid-size private foundations in general gave more than twice the 5 percent minimum distribution requirement, with the smallest foundations giving away significantly more during 2011.
Private foundations with less than $10 million in assets increased giving by 20.6 percent compared to 2010, whereas foundations with assets between $10 million and $50 million scaled back their giving by 7.8 percent from 2010.
The nation’s smallest foundations disbursed 58.4 percent of assets during 2011.
According to Foundation Source in Fairfield, Conn., giving priorities shifted in 2011, with foundations giving 40.6 percent more to Arts & Culture than in 2010. Education saw a 3.1 percent decrease in funding, while funding to Science & Technology decreased 52.4 percent.
The data was compiled based on the actual grantmaking behavior of 719 private foundations with philanthropic assets less than $50 million. The research is based on actual data, rather than surveys or estimates. The numbers are a representative snapshot of the largest segment of private foundations in the U.S. where 98 percent of the approximately 80,000 private foundations have endowments with less than $50 million and the vast majority of those are between $250,000 and $5 million.
According to H. King McGlaughon, chief executive officer of Foundation Source, “Small to mid-size private foundations are the silent majority in the philanthropic sector. While all eyes tend to be on the Gates and Ford Foundations of the world, we believe there is another, more dynamic story to be told about the tens of thousands of foundations under $50 million in philanthropic assets. By shining the spotlight on this important slice of the philanthropic pie, we’re able to better understand the complex factors that foster and inhibit charitable behavior in the United States.”
These small to medium-sized foundations tend to be younger than the larger foundations. Some 17 percent of the foundations are between three and four years old; 34.5 percent are between five and six years old; 28.7 percent are between seven and nine years old; and, 19.9 percent are 10 or more years old. Foundation Source did not include foundations formed within the last two years in its research so that all foundations in the sample set would have at least two full years of measurable data.
The complete Index is expected to be published by the summer, when year-end portfolio reconciliations have been completed, according to Foundation Source.