Global giving by US community foundations

International grantmaking by community foundations in the US is becoming a more common practice for community foundations of varied sizes, geographies, and types. The Council on Foundations and Foundation Center published a new report in May 2016 that analyzed global grantmaking by the largest community foundations in the US.

The report shows that in 2014, 85 per cent of the largest community foundations made at least one grant internationally, compared to 67 per cent in 2002. The amount of global giving is also increasing, with global programme funding doubling between 2010 and 2014, and more than $1.3 billion in documented international giving by US community foundations between 2002 and 2014.

The report includes analysis of grantmaking data and qualitative interviews highlighting how five community foundations are engaging internationally. Historically, US community foundations have been considered local, place‑based institutions that serve as community anchors and leaders for local needs within a specific geography.

This first‑ever analysis of international grantmaking by the largest US community foundations shows a broader, more nuanced definition of ‘community’ for these institutions today.

The report also finds that most international giving is channeled through US‑based intermediary organizations. Additionally, there is little evidence of US community foundation engagement with their non‑US peers.

As US community foundations continue to increase their international grantmaking, there are unexplored opportunities to leverage the local leadership and expertise of community foundations around the world, as well as partner with other international grantmakers in the US to improve effectiveness and engage in discussions on key global issues.

The report also highlights current data gaps, which limit the sample sharing detailed grantmaking data and makes it hard to determine the exact country and even region of grant implementation.

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