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Basic Facts about International Giving by US Foundations

Estimated giving by US foundations for international purposes reached a record $ 3.8 billion in 2005. This represents a roughly one-fifth gain from the revised estimate of $ 3.2 billion for 2002.

Following a period of rapid growth, giving by US foundations for international purposes decreased in 2002. The stock market downturn, a recession, and a more difficult climate for giving in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the ensuing "war on terrorism" all contributed to this reduction in support.

After declining in 2002, international giving remained at about the same level through 2003. It rebounded over the next two years, increasing nearly 11 % in 2004 and 8 % in 2005. Several factors contributed to this turnaround.

Above all, the foundation community provided substantial support in response to devastating humanitarian disasters around the world, such as those in Sudan and South Asia. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation ramped up giving for global health, especially through its Grand Challenges in Global Health Initiative. Furthermore, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, a relatively new environmental grantmaker whose assets jumped from $ 93 million in 2002 to close to $ 5 billion in 2003, boosted giving primarily through funding its Andes-Amazon Initiative to converse biodiversity.

Despite increases in support by some funders during this period, overall gains were partially offset by reductions in giving by others whose endowments had yet to fully recover from losses incurred earlier in the stock market downswing. Stricter government policies aimed at preventing the diversion of charitable assets to terrorists may have also worked to discourage funding overseas.

Source: "International Grantmaking Update", released by the Foundation Center in cooperation with the Council on Foundations, October 2006