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On the Bright Side: New Trends in Foundation Funding

Dec 14

Written by: Grants Office, LLC
Friday, December 14, 2012  RssIcon

By Ali Palmieri

Due to their nature, foundations are always changing who and what they fund. They are independent from the legislature that governs federal and state grant programs and, to some extent, have the liberty to do what they please. According to the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP), foundation grants to empower poor and needy communities have increased recently. Giving has steadily increased to populations such as disadvantaged people, the elderly, women, girls and other groups since 2004. The executive director of NRCP, Aaron Dorfman, stated, “We’re seeing slow but steady progress in a positive direction. The data suggests that our nation’s grant-making foundations may be realizing that they can achieve their missions more effectively and also serve the common good by prioritizing and empowering those with the least wealth, opportunity and power.”

The study also found that one in six funders allocated at least 50 percent of their grant dollars to benefit marginalized communities. The funding to benefit the poor doubled in terms of raw dollars and increased from 20 to 31 percent of total giving. Social justice is a focus of a large number of foundations because it helps create a stronger community and, other key points in the report included, social justice grants as a share of total giving decreased among community foundations, operating foundations, and grantmakers in the South but increased among large funders. Additionally, eight percent of foundations included in the studies reported giving more than 25 percent of grant dollars for social justice causes.

A specific example of this type of funding is the MassNeeds Collaborative in Massachusetts. They have announced a commitment of $8.4 million to nonprofits that focus on hunger, housing, heating and health needs. The collaborative consists of 41 corporate, public and private foundations.  With winter approaching, impending heating bills can pose a problem for the needy. MassNeeds also provides the ability for people to lend their services, whether it be their time, labor or finances. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has a specific strategy just for the socioeconomically disadvantaged. Much of the strategy has to do with digital transactions and the delivery of services that help this population to move out of poverty faster.

In our state of economic crisis, the needy are suffering even more. It is encouraging to see foundations stepping up where and helping those who may not have the same resources as the rest of society. Communities can only benefit from this new trend in foundation funding.

 

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