During a decade when runaway corporate greed crippled the global economy, several of the largest foundation contributors to funding for underserved communities were corporate funders.
Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo – together responsible for $1.4 billion in funding for underserved communities – have seen their parent companies subject to legal penalties in the tens of billions of dollars stemming from their share of the responsibility for the housing and financial crises of 2009, an economic disaster that disproportionately affected the same underserved communities their foundations’ grantmaking so dutifully addressed. Corporate foundations between 2003 and 2013 increased their funding for underserved communities as a share of their total grantmaking from 29 to 41 percent – an increase twice as large as their independent counterparts.
Community foundations, on the other hand, lost ground. The share of all community foundation grant dollars devoted to underserved communities fell from 33 to 26 percent between 2003 and 2013, even as the portion of all dollars for underserved communities coming from community foundations increased.
In other words, a grant whose purpose is to benefit underserved communities was more likely to have come from a community funder in 2013 than in 2003, but community foundations were less likely to prioritize underserved communities in 2013 than they were in 2003. Community foundations are among the fastest growing in the county. But, as a group, their commitment to funding to benefit the marginalized communities they claim to serve has faltered.
Key trends in giving to underserved communities
by community foundations