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If you’ve been following our 2022 Report On Private Philanthropy series, you’re likely curious to learn even more about the giving trends that have emerged over the past two years. In this issue, we’re diving into the trends by sector—revealing interesting insights on where and when grants were made. Read on to discover what our subject matter experts discovered while tracking and analyzing the activities of a sample of nearly 1,000 private, non-operating foundation clients over the past two years.

Giving by Charitable Sector

In 2021, the sector receiving the most foundation funding was Education, which increased slightly from 2020, followed by Public/Societal Benefit and Human Services, both of which decreased year-over-year by more than 2%.

Three other sectors enjoyed modest increases in funding from 2020: Arts, Culture and Humanities; Environment and Animals; and Unknown/Unclassified.* These year-over-year shifts across sectors are yet another indicator of foundation giving gradually shifting away from the urgent public health and social issues of 2020 and refocusing on core missions in 2021.


Where Grants Were Made

The map below shows the geographic location of grant recipients in 2020 and 2021. Although most of the grants made by the foundations in our sample were made domestically, grant dollars were directed to recipients in the U.S. and 32 other locations around the world over the past two years. Of note, the average grant for non-U.S. locations is $74,712, which is more than triple the size of the average U.S. grant of $21,613.


When Grants Were Made

As in previous years, foundation grantmaking activity in 2021 reached its highest point at the end of the calendar year. In both 2020 and 2021, approximately one-third of all grants were awarded in the “giving season” of November and December – most likely because these months encompass several holidays and occur just before the end of the calendar tax year.


Additionally, as we’ve seen in most previous reports, we observed evidence of a “summer bump” in grantmaking activity in June 2021. This is likely due to:

  • foundations revisiting their charitable goals at mid-year
  • some foundations having fiscal tax years ending in June.

In 2020, however, there was a higher than-usual volume of giving in April, May and June, helping demonstrate how foundations responded to the March 2020 declaration of a national emergency due to COVID-19.

Questions About This Report Or Want to Learn More?
Be sure to subscribe to our Blog to catch the next installment in this series on advanced grantmaking. In the meantime, whether you’re looking for support for your existing foundation or want to create a private foundation, our philanthropic specialists are here to help. To learn more, schedule a call with us here or reach us at 800-839-0054. Together, let’s #begiving.

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