Foundation grants that intentionally prioritize or empower underserved communities increased modestly in recent years, according to two new studies released today by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP), the country's independent watchdog of philanthropy.
The Philanthropic Landscape: The State of Giving to Underserved Communities, reports that the proportion of foundation grant dollars classified as benefitting economically disadvantaged people, the elderly, women and girls and other marginalized groups was 40 percent in the 2008 to 2010 time period, up from 33 percent in 2004 to 2006.
Giving to empower these underserved groups increased from 12 percent of grant dollars in 2004-2006 to 15 percent in 2008-2010, according to The State of Social Justice Philanthropy.
"We're seeing slow but steady progress in a positive direction," said Aaron Dorfman, executive director of NCRP. "The data suggest that our nation's grantmaking 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."
Other key findings noted in the studies include:
One in six funders allocated at least 50 percent of their grant dollars to benefit marginalized communities.
Funding to benefit the poor doubled in terms of raw dollars and increased from 20 percent to 31 percent of total giving.
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.
Eight percent of foundations in the sample reported giving more than 25 percent of grant dollars for social justice.
Among the top funders giving the most total grant dollars to intentionally benefit underserved communities were the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ford Foundation and The Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation.
The three foundations that awarded the highest percentage of their giving to benefit underserved communities were The Weberg Trust, A Glimmer of Hope Foundation and The Melville Charitable Trust.
The largest social justice funders by amount were the Gates Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation.
The Rosenberg Foundation, A Glimmer of Hope Foundation and The Melville Charitable Trust were the three largest foundations that the highest percent of grant dollars as social justice funding.
NCRP also notes that social justice philanthropy gives grantmakers maximum impact and leverage. Recent studies show that for every dollar invested in policy and civic engagement, there is a return of $115 in community benefit.
"The State of Giving for Underserved Communities" and "The State of Social Justice Philanthropy," written by NCRP research and policy director Niki Jagpal and research and policy associate Kevin Laskowski, are available for free on the NCRP website at www.ncrp.org.
About "The Philanthropic Landscape"
"The Philanthropic Landscape" is a new series of fact sheets that analyzes the most recently available data for the latest giving trends. Don't miss these and forthcoming reports from NCRP; sign up to receive Roundup in your inbox today!
The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy in Washington, D.C., is a national watchdog, research and advocacy organization that promotes philanthropy that serves the public good, is responsive to people and communities with the least wealth and opportunity, and is held accountable to the highest standards of integrity and openness. Visit www.ncrp.org.