One in four foundations have changed giving strategies since 2016 US elections


Alliance magazine


A new survey of more than 450 foundations found that one in four have made changes to their philanthropic giving as a result of the 2016 elections. Of the foundations that reported changes, more than half said they began to fund advocacy-related initiatives or increased their allocations to advocacy.

Exponent Philanthropy’s Pulse Check Survey compiled the opinions of its members – foundations with few or no staff, philanthropic families, and individual donors. The most recent survey was completed just after the 2018 mid-term elections and examined how changes in Washington DC, have influenced philanthropic behaviour or could affect giving in 2019, both in terms of giving practices and investments.

‘While the pace of change is often slow in philanthropy, this survey shows that philanthropy, particularly those who operate with few or no staff, can be nimble in responding to current events and the changing needs of a community,’ said Henry L. Berman, Exponent Philanthropy’s chief executive officer.

Corey Oser, vice president programs for the Global Fund for Children, said that funding advocacy work is essential to its mission to advance rights and opportunities for children and youth.

‘Policy advocacy is critical component of our work to shift systems of poverty, injustice and discrimination that affect the lives of children,’ Oser said. ‘Whether in the U.S. or abroad, funding work that includes a range of advocacy approaches is critical to creating this type of long-term change, particularly in a climate where civil society must remain resilient in the face of efforts to shrink its influence.’

The other ways grantmakers said they had changed since 2016 included:

  • Changing their allocations to specific funding areas (32 per cent).
  • Adding a new funding area (30 per cent).
  • Giving more general operating grants (29 per cent).
  • Giving more capacity building grants (23 per cent).

Respondents were split on whether they expected philanthropy to play a more important role in society moving forward considering the outcome of the 2018 mid-term elections. A little more than 45 per cent said they agreed or strongly agreed, while a little more than half said they expected no change. Most respondents (82 per cent) said they would not make any changes to philanthropic giving in 2019 as a result of the 2018 midterms.


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