Private foundations with less than $50 million in assets gave nearly as much to charity last year as they did in 2017 despite declines in their asset balances, according to Foundation Source’s 2019 annual report on private foundations.
In 2018, foundations’ overall asset balances decreased by 3.5%, compared with 13.2% growth in 2017. Research showed that most of this drop in value occurred in the fourth quarter when the S&P 500 fell, ending the year down nearly 7% on the year.
At year-end, the foundations in the sample collectively held $4.6 billion, a loss of $180 million over the previous year.
Even with the decline, small foundations collectively awarded grants of $298.7 million, nearly matching their 2017 disbursements of $299.3 million.
In addition, they exceeded the mandatory 5% distribution requirement, disbursing on average 7.3% of their assets for charitable purposes. The smallest foundations — those with less than $1 million in their coffers — distributed 14.2% of their total asset balances.
“The generosity demonstrated by these foundations is impressive,” Foundation Source’s chief philanthropic officer, Page Snow, said in a statement. “Whether the year was attended by strong economic growth or not, they maintained consistent levels of giving, demonstrating their donors’ unshakable commitment to philanthropy.”