US foundations rally to continue funding during economic downturn

US foundations rally to continue funding during economic downturn

News (International)

US foundations have committed over $100m to address the causes and impact of the current economic downturn, new Foundation Center research shows.

The paper A First Look at the Foundation and Corporate Response to the Economic Crisis examines giving patterns by 50 institutional donors. These institutions have already announced over $100m in grants and programme-related investments (PRIs), which is earmarked for efforts ranging from reducing the number of foreclosures to shoring up food banks and services for the homeless to providing financial counseling.

The Center has been collecting recent data available on US foundation support for the crisis and updating this information regularly on an interactive map - available on its website.

Support provided by the responders indicates a strong focus on local needs, with community foundations playing a critical role in directing resources to their home communities. Corporate foundations are also proving an important source of support funding the crisis at the national level. The GE Foundation, the GE Company’s philanthropic organisation, recently announced that it will direct more than $20m in funding in 2009 to organisations responding to the impact of the economic downturn.

"Families are facing one of the worst economic recessions of our lifetime, forcing many to seek food and shelter services," said Bob Corcoran, president of GE Foundation, whose $10.5m grant to the United Way of America is the single largest commitment for shelter assistance and homeless services so far.

"This support is just the beginning of the foundation and corporate response," said Steven Lawrence, the Center's senior director of research and author of the paper. "Institutional donors will undoubtedly make more of these commitments as the continuing economic crisis touches ever-greater numbers of organisations and individuals."

The research also indicates that many foundations and corporations will respond to the economic crisis in a less prominent but equally critical way by maintaining stable levels of giving or minimising funding cuts despite pronounced losses in income and the value of their assets.

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