New Report Details Shifts in Foundation Operations & Grantmaking

February 01, 2017

(Washington, DC)  More foundations that operate with few or no staff are engaging in activities that expand beyond traditional grantmaking, according to Exponent Philanthropy’s 2017 Foundation Operations and Management Report. Exponent Philanthropy is the nation’s largest philanthropic member association, composed of nearly 2,000 individual and organizational members across the country.

“Foundations with lean operations do so much more than just write checks to their grantees,” said Henry L. Berman, Exponent Philanthropy’s chief executive officer. “Our members are making a conscientious effort to have an ‘outsized impact,’ allowing each dollar granted to result in more than just the monetary value of their giving.”

The report highlights numerous activities beyond grantmaking that lead to outsized impact among member foundations, including:

  • 79% send board members on site visits
  • 63% collaborate with other funders
  • 43% convene grantees

The 2017 Foundation Operations and Management Report also includes the following findings:

  • Foundation members collectively awarded an estimated $4 billion, 5.2% of their assets.
  • Succession and the need for greater focus/impact in their grantmaking are  top concerns
  • Women outnumber men in all the staff roles in the survey with just 44% of CEO/top administrators identifying as male.
  • Women CEOs or executive directors earn, on average, 85 cents for every $1 paid to men, regardless of employee experience or foundation asset size.

 “Funders who work with few or no staff make up the vast majority of the philanthropy sector,” said Berman. “On average, our member foundations give nearly $1.98 million per year across 45 grants but spend just 14 cents per dollar in operating costs.”

Exponent Philanthropy members support many issues, including education (75%), human services (60%), health (55%), arts & culture (52%), and environment and animals (33%). They are funding locally (83%), at the state level (40%), regionally (23%), nationally (35%), and internationally (21%).

About the Report

The 2017 Foundation Operations and Management Report is based on the 16th operations and management survey of members of Exponent Philanthropy that was fielded in the summer of 2016. The report details trends in foundation grantmaking, operations, investments, and governance. To obtain a free press copy of the report, please email Jeanne@exponentphilanthropy.org.

About Exponent Philanthropy

Exponent Philanthropy is the country’s largest association of funders—nearly 2,000 members strong—and the only one dedicated to serving foundations with few or no staff, philanthropic families, and individual donors. Our vibrant network has in common lean operations and a style of philanthropy motivated by personal passion, community needs, and the strong desire for better outcomes. We provide high-quality and cost-effective programs, resources, and connections that maximize our members’ dollars and time for the benefit of diverse communities and causes.