Funders in social justice believe in the transformative power of the work of nonprofit organizations in creating opportunities for the disenfranchised and in bringing about meaningful systemic change in society as a whole. These foundations support grassroots and community-based organizations, which have tended to be the focus of interest, as well as larger, established organizations, which possess the leverage and knowledge to affect change at the policy level.
To track trends in social justice philanthropy, the Foundation Center publishes studies and annual reports on the topic. These can be found in full-text formats in Special Topic Trends in the Gain Knowledge area of our web site.
Building on the benchmark study, Social Justice Grantmaking II: An Update on U.S. Foundation Trends (2009), the April 2011 report, Key Facts on Social Justice Grantmaking, provides an analysis of the philanthropic activity of the largest U.S. private foundations during the course of 2009. The statistical analyses presented in the report are based on grants of $10,000 and above made by a sample of 955 U.S. private foundations.
Among the interesting findings are these:
- Despite the economic stagnation of 2009 (or perhaps because of it), the share of grant dollars awarded to social justice remained essentially the same as in 2008, at around 14 percent -- a total of $3.1 billion (from the foundations in the sample).
- Close to one third of all grant dollars awarded in the broad category of social justice was given for economic and community development.
- Twenty-one percent of the grants awarded in 2009 targeted international activities in social justice.
- As with other areas of interest, the top foundations by giving in social justice provided the lion's share of all giving, at over 70 percent.
The brief report is packed with information, including charts and graphs showing:
- The fourteen major fields of interest representing social justice grantmaking and the share of grant dollars and share of total grants given to each.
- A list of the twenty-five largest foundations giving in social justice and a corresponding list of the twenty-five largest funders by share of giving to social justice.
- The percentage of social justice giving for each of the following: domestic, international U.S.-based, and international non-U.S.-based organizations/programs.
Finally, the report offers an interesting list of selected funded projects in social justice, showing the diversity of funding interests in this broad area of giving.
Download the full report free of charge.
And share your thoughts on these findings in the comments below.