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FAIRFIELD Conn., – (NEWSWIRE) – Foundation Source, the nation’s largest provider of management solutions for private foundations, today released the 2022 Report on Private Philanthropy, a quantitative study of nearly 1,000 private and family foundations with assets between $1 million and $500 million. It found that after generously supporting acute needs in 2020, including pandemic relief and racial equity, foundations gave even more abundantly in 2021 as they continued to assist with recovery efforts, responded to natural disasters and humanitarian crises, and revisited their core pre-pandemic charitable missions.

The foundations studied collectively gave $689 million in 2021, $40 million more than in 2020. The increase was more pronounced among larger foundations – those with $50 million to $500 million in assets – where giving went up nearly 21%.

At the same time, foundations gave 500 fewer grants in 2021, suggesting a move from urgently helping as many recipients as possible in 2020 to having more targeted impact in 2021.

“While some of our data indicates a return to pre-pandemic behaviors, the spike in giving over the last year could be a signal that the shocks of 2020 have had a lasting impact and set dedicated philanthropists on a new trajectory to address needs in a less reactive but increasingly generous way,” said Sunil Garga, president and CEO of Foundation Source. “As the market winds have shifted again in 2022, it remains to be seen what will take place next but foundations will likely rise to the occasion. More than any other charitable giving vehicle, foundations are equipped with a powerful and versatile philanthropic toolkit for creatively solving problems and effecting change.”

Among the key findings from the report:

  • Endowments grew — Private foundation endowments experienced double-digit growth in both 2020 and 2021, which is consistent with strong market performance and contribution rates, helping to set the stage for future giving. In 2021 endowments increased $1.7 billion year-over-year.
  • Giving exceeded requirements — Foundations of all sizes granted more than their annual mandatory distribution requirement of 5% in 2021, with the smallest foundations giving nearly twice that (8.9%).
  • Types of grants shifted — Grants to individuals, which foundations used extensively during the crises in 2020 to directly send emergency aid to people in need, decreased by 64% in 2021. Foundations also decreased their use of general-purpose grants in 2021 by 3% after issuing an unprecedented number of them in 2020 to give recipients latitude to direct funds where they were needed most.
  • Foundations returned to their core missions — Grants supporting human services and public/societal benefit organizations decreased in 2021 (after spiking in 2020) while those supporting education, the arts and the environment increased modestly, indicating that foundations are gradually refocusing on their pre-pandemic missions.
  • Small foundations managed their assets very differently than large foundations — In their investment portfolios, smaller foundations had the largest allocation to equities and cash holdings, and the lowest allocations to alternative assets, in both 2020 and 2021. Larger foundations were the opposite; they devoted more than 20% of their portfolios to alternatives in both years—nearly five times the exposure maintained by smaller foundations.
  • Small foundations grew more — While all foundations enjoyed growth in 2021, smaller foundations realized the greatest gain in assets, adding 15.6% in net value. They also had a considerably higher rate of contributions (9.9%) compared to their mid-size and larger counterparts (5.1% and 5.7% respectively).

“These findings signal both shifts and consistency,” said Gillian Howell, Head of Client Advisory Solutions. “The events of the world over the last two years have clearly impacted the giving landscape, and there is evidence of that in several of the grantmaking trend lines. But what has remained consistent is how private foundations have responded overall. They’ve been there throughout, meeting the moment to address the most urgent needs and also pursuing longer-term missions to make the world a better place.”

The full report can be viewed here.

Report Methodology

The 2022 Report on Private Philanthropy presents a year-over-year analysis (2020 to 2021) of foundations with assets between $1 million and $500 million to provide insights into how the wealthiest families and most philanthropic organizations are effecting change in the world. It explores grantmaking activities, including the size, timing and locations of the grants, financial inflows and outflows, and foundations’ investment activity, including portfolio growth and asset allocation

The findings in this report are based on the analysis of the activities of a sample of 948 private, non-operating foundation clients. Data was drawn from transactions, returns and balances recorded by Foundation Source as it paid grants and expenses on behalf of its clients, prepared their tax returns, and recorded investment information provided by each foundation’s financial institution(s).

About Foundation Source (

Foundation Source is the nation’s largest provider of foundation management services and a trusted source for philanthropic expertise. We offer purpose-built software applications and a configurable suite of tech-enabled administrative, compliance, tax and advisory solutions for private philanthropists and their foundations.

For more than two decades, Foundation Source has been empowering people and companies to create a better world through philanthropy. We work with individuals, families, boards and professional advisors to bring philanthropic visions to life and make giving easier. Today we are proud to support more than 2,000 unique foundations representing over $22 billion in charitable assets.


Carly Taylor


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