NEW YORK - U.S. foundations made $45.7 billion in grants in 2010 and are expected to give away up to 4 percent more this year amid a fragile economic recovery, a top philanthropic research group said Thursday.
Giving from the country's 76,000 grant-making foundations was almost unchanged last year from 2009, and remained 2.1 percent below a record $46.8 billion in 2008, the Foundation Center said.
Foundation assets grew about 5 percent last year to $621.4 billion, but remain 9 percent below their pre-financial crisis high of $682.2 billion recorded in 2007.
The group's report, "Foundation Growth and Giving Estimates," said that giving held steady for the past couple of years due to a recovering stock market, foundations drawing upon endowments and cutting administrative costs.
The top U.S. foundations by giving include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the AstraZeneca Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the GlaxoSmithKline Patient Access Programs Foundation and the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation.
"Foundations provided stability for non-profits during a time of crisis," said Foundation Center President Bradford Smith. "Many made extraordinary efforts to maintain their giving levels, while other, often newer foundations even increased their giving."
Independent foundations gave $32.5 billion in 2010 and corporate foundations gave $4.7 billion, both down less than 1 percent from 2009, while giving by community foundations fell 2 percent to $4.1 billion.
The Foundation Center forecast giving would grow 2 percent to 4 percent this year, with half the 1,065 foundations surveyed expecting to increase their grant-making in 2011. About 17 percent saw grants remaining unchanged and 30 percent expected a decrease.
"These additional dollars will help to seed the many promising endeavors put on hold during the depths of the economic crisis," said Steven Lawrence, director of research at the Foundation Center and principal author of the report.
The report stressed that demand for funds from U.S. foundations had grown considerably in recent years, adding to pressure on philanthropic groups.
"Beyond the long-term challenges foundations regularly address ... the economic downturn slashed government revenues at all levels, leaving political leaders and the organizations they support scrambling to replace lost dollars," it said. (Editing by Daniel Trotta and Laura MacInnis)
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