Pennies for Progress

A decade of boom for philanthropy, a bust for social justice

Pennies for Progress

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Written by: Ryan Schlegel

Date: November 23, 2016


In 2008, on the eve of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, America’s foundations were doing better than ever. According to Foundation Center data, between 2003 and 2008, more than 10,000 new foundations were endowed, and total foundation assets grew by more than 40 percent. The boom years were especially good to the top 1 percent of funders, whose giving, and so it follows their assets, grew by 70 percent. Wealthy patrons were practically printing money, and their public spiritedness (and, cynics might say, their thirst for tax relief) redounded to the philanthropic sector’s benefit. In five years, American foundations were the beneficiaries of $164 billion in tax-subsidized gifts. …

Text updated 12/6/16.

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Appendix A

How does NCRP define “underserved communities” and “social justice grantmaking”?

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Appendix B

What are NCRP’s benchmarks for philanthropy at its best?

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Appendix C

What about international grantmaking to benefit underserved communities?

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Appendix D

What types of foundations are giving to underserved communities

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Appendix E

Are corporate and community foundations investing in underserved communities?

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Appendix F

Which foundations gave the most in support of underserved communities?

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Appendix G

Why aren’t corporate or community funders investing in systemic change?

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Appendix H

What are the top 20 social justice foundations?

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Pennies for Progress

Section 1: Introduction

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