Small U.S. foundations get as much as they give

NEW YORK Tue May 8, 2012 12:02am EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. private foundations with less than $50 million in assets have since 2007 taken in as much new capital as they gave out, despite a sluggish economy that kept total assets below pre-financial crisis levels, according to a report released on Tuesday.

From the end of 2007 to the end of 2011, philanthropists contributed an average of 104 percent of the amounts granted, Foundation Source, a support services provider for private foundations, reported.

"We've seen for many years how our clients replenish their assets, but had not realized how well their contributions held up through the economic downturn," said Andrew Bangser, Chief Financial Officer of Foundation Source.

Even as the U.S. economy recovers slowly from the worst crisis since the Great Depression, the vast majority of private foundations with less than $50 million are giving out more than twice the 5 percent minimum required by the U.S. internal revenue service. Yet their total assets were still down almost 9 percent at the end of 2011 compared with pre-recession levels, Connecticut-based Foundation Source said.

"The data indicates that smaller foundations contribute more than larger foundations on a percentage basis," Bangser said.

Small private foundations account for 98 percent of the 80,000 private institutions in the United States, according to Foundation Source, which has 1000 clients.

These foundations are operated or controlled by individuals and families still in their earning years, Bangser said.

The data for the study was collected by looking at 519 private foundations with assets of less than $50 million. U.S. foundations, excluding not-for profit, grant between $40 billion to $50 billion every year, Bangser added.

(Reporting By Manuela Badawy; editing by Andre Grenon)

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