Masters Thesis

Demographic distribution of foundation funding within California

Greenlining Institute (GI) raised public awareness regarding the distribution of California foundation funding received by minorities and low income people. GI is concerned with the low percentage of funding reaching the intended target populations. When GI requested tax exempt foundations to provide statistical information regarding the final recipients they were meet with resistance. The foundations contend current reporting requirements regarding awardees do not consider the social benefits received by targeted populations. This issue gave rise to AB624 in the California State Legislature. The bill was removed from consideration when 10 major California foundations agreed to spend millions of dollars strengthening organizations supporting minorities and low income individuals. The objective of this research is to ascertain if the percentage of California foundation philanthropy correlates to state social, economic and ethnic need as raised by GI. By measuring California foundation philanthropy, certain trends emerge and these trends enable grant writers to focus on underfunded counties and certain targeted populations. The source of information is limited to publicly accessible data for 2006. There is unprecedented growth in philanthropy beginning in the early 1980’s in part due to technological advancements and a shift from traditional foundation funding toward venture capitalism. The underlying cause for this move is the ability to direct the funded project and withdraw funding, increased reporting requirements and potential legislatively prescribed compliance regulations. This research applies methodological triangulation using regression analysis, policy review and theoretical forecasting. The combination of the above methods strengthened this study and provides an in-depth analysis of the data. The collection of data was limited to the top 25 California Foundations by giving, IRS forms 990, Census data and reports published public internet web sites. The amount of California foundation giving awarded to the social target population children/youth more than doubled from 1996 to 2006 and is projected to increase due to support from newly formed foundations and established foundations. In 2006 this target population received 28.1% of available funding. There is an upward trend for funding in low income target populations from 16.6% in 2006 to a projected 23.3% in 2007. Target ethnic populations received the highest level of funding in 2004 at 15.1% of available funds to 13.8% for 2006, and 2007 is projected at 14.25%. Increased political pressure leads to double and triple counting of grant funding by statisticians and should be noted. Statistical analysis and policy review found 19 California counties receive less than $50,000 in foundation grants and support the need for increased record keeping and consistent interpretation regarding the demographic information of grant awardees. Recommendations include voluntary and consistent record keeping; grant writers target counties without community foundations and large community foundations adjust their mission statement to allow them to cut across geographical barriers and serve underfunded counties whose needs fit the funding foundations mission statement.

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