International Giving by U.S. Foundations

Annual foundation funding for international programs reached $3 billion for the fourth year in a row, despite an economic downturn, terrorist attacks, and the launch of an ongoing war on terror, according to the New York City-based Foundation Center with the support and collaboration of the Council on Foundations in Washington, DC.

As recently as 1998, grants for U.S.-based and overseas international projects totaled only $1.6 billion. Critical factors in the consistently high level of giving in recent years include the presence of new international funders on the scene—ranging from the multi-billion-dollar Bill & Melinda Gates and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundations, to numerous smaller independent and corporate foundations and an increasing number of community foundations—and increased giving by many established funders.

Nearly eight out of ten believe that international giving is now more difficult due to a more demanding and uncertain regulatory environment. Among their concerns are Executive Order 13224, which prohibits transactions with organizations deemed to be associated with terrorism, and certain provisions of the Patriot Act. In addition, nearly 70 percent feel that the war on terrorism makes overseas funding more difficult due to increased security risks.

"International grantmakers are facing a period of prolonged uncertainty," noted Loren Renz, vice president for research at the Foundation Center and principal author of the report. "A marked increase in the number of international funders since the late 1990s is being tempered by greater caution in response to new post-9/11 funding guidelines."

"Foundations are the face of a generous and compassionate America internationally," said Dorothy S. Ridings, past president and CEO of the Council on Foundations. "Increased funding contributes to efforts to discourage terrorism, raise living standards, improve human rights, and build democracy and civil societies."

Asia has displaced Western Europe as top recipient of overseas funding, accounting for more than 23 percent of giving.

Source: fdncenter.org The Foundation Center's mission is to strengthen the nonprofit sector by advancing knowledge about U.S. philanthropy.

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