Grantmakers in Washington Region Anticipate Making Fewer, Larger Grants in 2009

New resources from Washington Grantmakers:


WASHINGTON, DC – On Wednesday, November 12, the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers (Washington Grantmakers) will release results from a survey of its membership on the impact of the economic downturn on assets and giving…

  • Eighty percent of survey respondents reported a drop in assets from 2007 to 2008.
  • Nevertheless, more than half (57 percent) anticipate that their 2009 grants budget will be the same or only slightly less than their 2008 budget.
  • Nearly half (47 percent) anticipate making fewer but larger grants in 2009.
  • Washington Grantmakers members in Northern Virginia, suburban Maryland and the District of Columbia also indicate they will be more open to general operating grants in 2009 than they have been in the past, suggesting that grantmakers understand nonprofits’ need for flexibility to reallocate scarce resources.

    Tamara Lucas Copeland, president of Washington Grantmakers: “As we enter this holiday season, our region is facing critical financial needs. Governments are confronting major deficits and businesses are closing. Philanthropy is beginning to assess how it will function in this new economic reality.”

    Rose Ann Cleveland, executive director of the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation: “With our fellow funders, we will be listening and responding to community needs. The Foundation’s directors and Advisory Board members have long understood the importance of general operating grants to nonprofit organizations. We will continue to exercise all due diligence and provide general support or other assistance to qualifying nonprofits that are helping to improve the lives of D.C.-area residents.”

    Foundation Giving in 2007
    In 2007, foundations in the region gave more than $789 million, a 6 percent increase over the total from Washington Grantmakers’ 2005 analysis. Over that two year period, the value of total assets for foundations in the region increased by 15 percent, from $11.5 billion in 2005 to $13.2 billion in 2007. Because foundations’ grants budgets are often based on the previous year’s net investment assets, we can reasonably expect to see a jump in giving from 2007 to 2008, once this year’s
    figures become available.

    Corporate Giving in 2007
    Contributions by the top twenty corporate donors totaled nearly $140 million. The top three corporate givers were Washington Grantmakers members Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, and Wal-Mart. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae gave a combined $46.67 million.

    Shortly after the federal takeover of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, Washington Grantmakers formed a coalition of local umbrella organizations which began working to save Freddie’s and Fannie’s charitable and leadership contributions to the region. The Federal Housing Finance Agency recently responded to these efforts, saying: “It is envisioned that the Enterprises will continue to make charitable contributions.” However, the response did not mention giving levels or the anticipated focus of future giving.

    Washington Grantmakers will release the survey results and the 2007 summary data for the region’s philanthropy at its annual meeting on November 12, at 3 p.m., at 1400 16th Street, NW, Washington, D.C. Susan Raymond, Ph.D. will speak about what recent trends and a volatile economy mean for the future of philanthropy and our social profit partners. Dr. Raymond, a noted economist and award-winning author, currently serves as executive vice president for Changing Our World Inc. and is chief analyst for

    Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers is a network of funders, partnering with nonprofits and governments, that is committed to improving the region by touching lives and changing communities through effective and efficient grantmaking. Online at