Community Foundations Show Recovery from Recession


New research shows a 20% increase in community foundation asset levels from 2006.

The findings from the 2012 Columbus Survey, the most comprehensive study on community foundation financial data, were recently released from the nation Council on Foundations and CF Insights. Guideposts Point to New Heights shows increases across grants, assets, and gifts from 2011 to 2012. Each of these factors marked the highest total since 2007, indicating continuing recovery from the recession for the sector as a whole, although some individual community foundations have not yet fully recovered.

Two interesting factors about the growth:

  • Donor advised funds (DAF) drove growth across the board — DAF assets increased 22% on average, and DAFs accounted for 69% of total gifts and 61% of total grants.
  • Fiscal year end dates matter. Community foundations with fiscal years that end in March or June tended to see less growth in assets due to the market closing lower in those months compared to the end of the year. Foundations with fiscal years ending in September or December fared better due to the better market at that time.

Of local interest, 38% of foundations that responded to the survey are from the Midwest area. The Saint Paul Foundation and Minnesota Community Foundation and The Minneapolis Foundation are both listed in the national Top 100 Community Foundations by Asset Size, at 13 and 26 respectively.

If your geographically-based community foundations hasn’t completed the survey yet, there is still time to contribute to the online benchmarking data! Check out or email for more information.

– Anne Graham, MCF research associate

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