A growing number of grantmakers have made exceptional commitments to address the causes and impact of the current economic downturn, says Steven Lawrence, senior director of research at the Foundation Center.
In a new research advisory (4 pages, PDF), Lawrence examined giving by fifty or institutional donors that have announced grants and program-related investments totaling more than $100 million to stem the tide of foreclosures, shore up foodbanks and services for the homeless, and provide financial counseling. According to Lawrence, the support provided by these funders demonstrates a strong — though not exclusive — focus on local needs, with community foundations playing a critical role in directing resources to the needy in their communities.
Corporate funders also were found to be an important source of support at the national level. The GE Foundation, for example, recently announced that it will direct more than $20 million in funding in 2009 to organizations working to mitigate the impact of the economic downturn, including $10.5 million to the United Way of America. Lawrence noted that many foundations and corporations are likely to respond to the economic crisis in a less visible but equally critical way by maintaining their level of giving or minimizing funding cuts despite pronounced losses in the value of their assets.
"This support is just the beginning of the foundation and corporate response," said Lawrence. "Institutional donors will undoubtedly make more of these commitments as the continuing economic crisis touches ever-greater numbers of organizations and individuals."
The advisory is the latest in a series released as part of the Foundation Center's Focus on the Economic Crisis project, which includes an interactive map and an RSS feed containing the most recent data available on U.S. foundation giving in response to the economic downturn.