Foundation Assets at Highest Levels Since Downturn, Survey Finds

Thanks in large part to a surging stock market, the assets of major foundations increased in value in 2013 to the highest level since the onset of the Great Recession more than six years ago, a survey by the finds.

The found that the assets of eighty-three grantmakers representing more than a third of the wealth held by foundations nationwide grew 7.5 percent on a year-over-year basis in 2013, and that respondents are likely to increase their grantmaking in 2014. Based on 2008-13 data from sixty-six foundations, the analysis also found that foundation assets were still 16.6 percent below pre-recession highs, and that foundation grantmaking in 2013 was down 6.5 percent from its high in 2007.

According to the Chronicle, several foundations are using their replenished grantmaking budgets to accelerate efforts to address complex issues such as income inequality, climate change, the reintegration of military veterans into civilian life, access to healthcare, and partisan gridlock in Washington, D.C. For instance, the in New York City is supporting efforts to rein in healthcare costs by reducing the use of emergency rooms for primary care, while the has allocated $225 million over four years to help ensure implementation of the and $18 million in program-related investments to expand and build community health centers in low-income neighborhoods.

Elsewhere, the board of the voted to phase out an eight-year, $20 million initiative that had funded nonprofit infrastructure groups working to provide donors with information about charities' effectiveness; in its place, Hewlett will shift "to a strategy to foster openness and transparency and collaboration" among foundations, nonprofits, and other social sector stakeholders, the foundation's president, Larry Kramer, told the Chronicle. And the , which is directing nearly all its grantmaking to efforts to reduce income inequality, announced that it will award $11 million annually to researchers studying the impact of economics, race, and ethnicity on a young person's life chances. "We hope the research will accumulate over time to produce new knowledge that can help reduce disparity among America’s young people," said Adam Gamoran, the foundation's president.

Doug Donovan, Sarah Frostenson. "." Chronicle of Philanthropy 03/23/2014.