U.S. family foundations awarded more than $18 billion in grants in 2007, a 13 percent increase over the previous year, a new report from the Foundation Center finds.
According to the 2009 edition of Key Facts on Family Foundations (4 pages, PDF), family foundations accounted for the majority (56 percent) of giving by independent foundations overall. The report, which examined giving by more than forty thousand foundations, found that a third of all family foundations have been established since 2000; that education was the top funding priority of family foundations located in the Northeast, Midwest, and South; and that health accounted for the biggest share among family foundations in the West, largely due to giving by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the country's largest.
The report also found that among a subset of the largest family foundations, 30 percent of their giving provided a specific benefit for the economically disadvantaged. "Family foundations provide much-needed resources in the best of times," said Steven Lawrence, senior director of research at the Foundation Center. "The current economic environment will make that support even more critical, especially for those in greatest need."