The Association of Small Foundations recently released its 2013 Foundation Operations and Management Report. Based on an extensive survey conducted every two years of US small foundations (those with few or no staff), the report includes more than 50 pages of data on how small foundations govern, steward their assets, accomplish their administrative work, and carry out their grantmaking.
Based on responses from 762 out of its nearly 2,400 member foundations, the report tells a story of philanthropy that is personal, passionate, lean, agile and responsive. Among the highlights:
• Small foundations direct 67 per cent of grant dollars to local communities. ASF members granted more than $4 billion in total to local, national and international causes in 2012.
• Small foundations spent just 15 cents per dollar on operating costs; nearly two-thirds of board members serve without compensation.
• Thirty-one per cent of small foundations have no staff; a typical small foundation with staff has just 1.5 staff members.
• Small foundation board members take their responsibilities as stewards seriously, typically meeting four times per year. ASF members report attending site visits (74 per cent); meeting with other funders (59 per cent); and attending conferences or other educational opportunities (50 per cent).
• ASF member foundations, typical of all US small foundations, report total investment returns of 9.7 per cent in 2012.
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