Global giving by U.S. foundations increased by 29%, to a record $9.3 billion, between 2011 and 2015, the Council on Foundations and Foundation Center reported this week.

The organizations’ analysis was based on grants data from Foundation Center’s research sample, FC 1000, which includes all grants of $10,000 or more reported by 1,000 of the largest U.S. foundations. A grant in the study was considered international if it was for a non-U.S. recipient or for a U.S. recipient for international programs or programs implemented abroad.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation accounted for 50.7% of total international grantmaking during the five-year period, or $17.9 billion. Projects in sub-Saharan Africa received $6.5 billion of that total.

A quarter of all international giving by foundations in the study, $9 billion, went to sub-Saharan Africa. Asia/Pacific followed with $6.6 billion and Latin America and the Caribbean with $2.7 billion.

The health sector received 52.5% of total international grant dollars during the study period, or $18.6 billion. The Gates Foundation contributed for 80% that amount.

The report noted that U.S. foundations’ international grantmaking for reproductive health care nearly tripled in the five years after a U.S. government rule prohibiting the use of federal money to fund organizations that provide abortions or information on abortions was reversed in 2009.

Other top issue areas:

  • Economic development — 12.5%, $4.4 billion
  • The environment — 10.9%, $3.9 billion
  • Agriculture and food security — 8.3%, $2.9 billion

The analysis showed that grants focused on climate change represented just 2.4% of international grantmaking by U.S. foundations between 2011 and 2015.

According to the study, international donors’ average grant size increased between 2002 and 2015, from $200,900 to $604,500. And between 2011 and 2015, only 12% of U.S. foundations’ overseas grant dollars went directly to organizations based in the country where programs were implemented, with the remainder channeled through intermediaries based elsewhere.

The research showed that U.S. community foundations more than tripled their international giving during 2011–2015 study period, from $103 million to $315 million. Sixty-three percent of that total came from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, which since its emergence in 2006 has become the largest community group in the U.S. and the world, according to the report.

“U.S. foundations are making a tremendous impact in communities all over the world,” Gene Cochrane, interim president and chief executive of the Council on Foundations, said in a statement.

“By tracking trends in support for global programs, we play a valuable role in supporting and strengthening the sector’s ability to continue to promote the common good globally.”

 

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