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Foundation grant-making expected to stabilize this year, Minnesota report says

A new survey shows that Minnesota’s foundation grant-makers expect to stabilize their giving, after two years in which they anticipated declines.

The Minnesota Council on Foundations surveyed 118 Minnesota grant-makers in October and November and found:

  • Half of Minnesota grant-makers surveyed expect their giving to stay about the same as 2010 levels. Most who expect to either increase or decrease their giving this year anticipate only modest changes of 4 percent or less.
  • For 2011, 35 percent of grant-makers expect to give more than in 2010, while 10 percent expect to give less. This is an improvement over expectations captured last year when just 25 percent expected increases and 30 percent expected decreases during 2010.
  • Grant-makers’ optimism about the stock market recovery and potential to earn stronger returns on investments is reflected in their 2011 asset outlook. Of those foundations with assets, 58 percent expect them to increase, 31 percent expect them to stay the same, and just 3 percent anticipate a decrease — percentages nearly identical to 2010 outlook numbers. The majority of grant-makers who expect assets to increase estimate modest growth of 4 percent or less.

Those surveyed represent about two-thirds of foundation and corporate giving in Minnesota.

Talking about the prospect of stability, Bill King, MCF president, said:

“When the economic crisis took hold in 2008, no one was sure how long and how bad the downturn would be and what kind of toll it would take on nonprofits. Because much of foundation giving is asset-based, we expect the effects on grant making to linger. It now appears that, while the ‘new normal’ is challenging, we are moving to more stability in the next year.”

The report also says:

  • Minnesota’s largest grant-makers (those giving more than $10 million in grants annually) are most likely to expect their grant-making levels to hold steady. Small grant-makers (less than $1 million annually) and midsize grant-makers ($1 million to $10 million annually) are more likely to expect grant-making increases in the coming year.
  • Among all grant-maker types, corporate foundations and giving programs are most likely to expect their grant-making levels to hold steady, while community/public foundations are more likely to anticipate grant-making increases.

The report, and what it means for nonprofits and philanthropists, will be discussed when MCF hosts its “2011 Minnesota Grant Making Outlook” from 9 to 11 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 27, at the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation offices in St. Paul.

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