Survey results

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Assets, gifts, and grants

Collectively, annual survey respondents held 11 percent more in assets than 2019. This increase was fueled by a second straight year of strong investment returns and significant increases in fundraising from donors who helped support the local philanthropic response to the emerging COVID-19 crisis. Grantmaking, like fundraising, saw significant increases field-wide.

Total assets

Median change in assets: 9.0%

Total reported gifts & grants

Total reported assets, gifts, & grants over time

Longitudinal tracking of growth in assets, gifts, and grants is done using a consistent sample of the largest 100 community foundations by asset size, who together hold over 90 percent of the dollars in the field. This group's collective asset total grew by more than 11 percent over 2019. After 2019 saw decreases in both, grantmaking increased by 38 percent in 2020, while fundraising increased by 42 percent.

Year Assets Gifts Grants
2011 $44,034,595,424 $4,405,881,621 $3,537,519,551
2012 $48,711,861,666 $6,009,732,867 $3,902,735,548
2013 $56,940,109,080 $6,704,246,715 $4,241,113,219
2014 $62,948,369,854 $7,644,936,605 $5,196,805,718
2015 $64,656,047,161 $6,920,799,654 $5,864,290,901
2016 $68,246,295,002 $7,979,635,201 $6,710,739,495
2017 $76,972,942,064 $8,814,691,946 $7,706,141,375
2018 $77,932,747,258 $9,427,587,722 $8,358,766,494
2019 $86,830,006,379 $8,779,516,804 $7,945,874,332
2020 $95,762,761,884 $12,468,661,698 $10,957,171,614

Changes in gift and grant activity

In 2020, the median community foundation saw gift and grant totals both increase by double digits, and nearly a third of survey respondents reported a fundraising total increase of more than 50 percent over 2019, reflecting a field that was particularly well-positioned to be among the most active philanthropic institutions as the COVID-19 pandemic emerged.

Median change in gifts: 16%

  • Dramatic decrease
  • Moderate decrease
  • Neutral
  • Moderate increase
  • Dramatic increase

Median change in grants: 18%

  • Dramatic decrease
  • Moderate decrease
  • Neutral
  • Moderate increase
  • Dramatic increase
Type of activity Dramatic decrease Moderate decrease Neutral Moderate increase Dramatic increase Median change
Gifts 8% 23% 16% 23% 30% 16%
Grants 3% 18% 18% 40% 22% 18%

Median gifts and grants per capita

Generally, as community foundation size increases, fundraising and grantmaking per capita also increases. Although larger community foundations tend to be based in more densely populated urban centers, they also achieve an economy of scale. In 2020, every asset size cohort experienced increases in these metrics, as many in the field both experienced increases in fundraising and deployed more funding than the previous year.