Grantmaking Below Pre-Recession Levels

The stock market and foundation assets have rebounded since the 2008 recession. But two charts show that grants to rural America are still lower than they were six years ago.

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Foundations invest less money in rural America today than they did six years ago.

Two charts by researcher and writer Rick Cohen tell the story. (Cohen, a frequent contributor to the Daily Yonder, gave this information as part of his session on rural philanthropy at the 2013 National Rural Assembly in Bethesda, Maryland, on Tuesday, June 25.)

First, here’s a look at foundation grantmaking to rural areas from 2005 to 2011. Cohen took a random sample of rural ZIP codes and tracked grants to those areas over the six-year period. He found, not surprisingly, that grants to these areas declined sharply following 2008, the start of the recession.

But after the recession eased and foundation assets went back up, grants to these rural ZIPs didn’t rebound. In fact, grants to these areas are still lower than they were in 2005. 

The story is the same in foundation grantmaking to rural health clinics. That’s what the second chart examines. 

Rick Cohen

Grants to these clinics rose in the years before the 2008 recession. After 2008 they dropped and still haven’t gotten back to 2005 levels, even though foundation assets have rebounded from the recession.   

Cohen said his study was based on various data, including the Foundation Center’s online grant-tracking system. He said it was not comprehensive but pointed to trends in philanthropy that needed deeper exploration.

 

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