Survey results

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Assets, gifts, and grants

Columbus Survey respondents' collectively reported asset total in FY19 exceeded FY18's total by close to eight percent. Fueled by an overall strong year for the investment market, the median community foundation in the FY19 sample experienced a more than 15 percent increase in total assets over FY18 levels.

Total assets

Median change in assets: 15.1%

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, that nonetheless reflects the overall trends experienced by the broader field. Within this group, assets grew by more than 11 percent over their collective FY18 total. The group's collective fundraising total decreased – for the first time since 2015 – by seven percent, while the grantmaking total decreased for the first time in eight years, by roughly five percent.

Year Assets Gifts Grants
2010 $42,742,145,945 $4,042,467,545 $3,603,833,654
2011 $43,894,143,235 $4,403,356,602 $3,533,152,541
2012 $48,564,639,272 $6,008,886,199 $3,898,078,602
2013 $56,776,286,568 $6,703,047,810 $4,236,391,990
2014 $62,782,582,877 $7,643,093,572 $5,192,217,233
2015 $64,491,604,030 $6,918,203,983 $5,859,011,527
2016 $68,033,239,332 $7,938,413,042 $6,700,824,945
2017 $76,718,333,588 $8,802,545,315 $7,697,185,810
2018 $77,709,156,724 $9,422,897,495 $8,348,751,421
2019 $86,583,092,305 $8,768,519,363 $7,936,844,861

Changes in gift and grant activity

The median FY19 survey respondent saw gift totals remain relatively flat from FY18, with a modest increase of just above two percent. One-fifth of all respondents saw fundraising totals remain within 10 percent of FY18 levels, while 37 percent of respondents reported a moderate or dramatic decrease in their gifts received. Notably, the cohort of community foundations with $25M in assets or less saw the most dramatic increases in fundraising with a median increase of 35 percent over FY18 levels. The median change in grantmaking was a more than eight percent increase, with 45 percent of respondents reporting a moderate or dramatic increase in grant dollars awarded over FY18 levels.

Median change in gifts: 2%

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

Median change in grants: 8%

  • 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% 29% 20% 15% 28% 2%
Grants 1% 19% 35% 31% 14% 8%

Median gifts and grants per capita

An economy of scale is achieved by larger community foundations, resulting in higher rates of fundraising and grantmaking per capita even as they tend to serve regions with more populous urban centers. Smaller community foundations, several of which had strong fundraising years of their own and serving typically smaller populations, reported similar per capita totals to cohorts other than the very largest community foundations.