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The Business of Giving

Exploring philanthropy, non-profits and socially motivated business, from the Gates Foundation to your donation. A fresh look at the economy of good intentions.

December 15, 2010 at 1:34 PM

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U.S. foundations' international giving holds steadier than overall giving

Posted by Kristi Heim

American charitable foundations gave about $6.7 billion last year for international purposes, down 4 percent, according to a report by the Foundation Center.

That dip was less than half of the 8.4 percent decline in overall giving last year.

The relative strength of global giving was buoyed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which awarded more than $2.7 billion, at least two of every five international dollars.

Despite the economic crisis, the findings show that U.S. foundations have a "firm commitment to addressing global issues," said Bradford K. Smith, president of the Foundation Center.

The largest share went to health (39 percent), followed by international development (21 percent) and the environment (17 percent).

International giving grew 49 percent between 2006 and 2008, while overall funding grew only 21 percent. Foundations other than Gates increased their international giving by 62 percent.

International programs based in the U.S. received about two-thirds of the grant dollars, while overseas recipients received about one-third.

The full report can be found here.

Meanwhile, in roughly the same period, gifts to charities from wealthy Americans plummeted by an average of nearly 35 percent from 2007 to 2009.

Those who had donated an average of about $83,000 in 2007 gave only about $54,000 two years later during the economic downturn, according to a study by Bank of America Merrill Lynch and the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.

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