Strategic decisions are only as good as the research that goes into making them. Candid's researchers analyze and interpret the most current philanthropic data so you can tap into it. Hundreds of full-text reports published over decades are available to download here in our frequently updated open access repository.

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What Drives Foundation Expenses & Compensation? Results of a Three-Year Study

February 1, 2008

Foundation type, size, staffing patterns, and operating activities are the key factors that consistently drive foundation expense and compensation patterns, according to a new report issued jointly by the Urban Institute, the Foundation Center, and GuideStar. "What Drives Foundation Expenses and Compensation? Results of a Three-Year Study" shows that even under changing or volatile economic conditions, the administrative expense and compensation patterns of U.S. foundations are consistent and predictable. The report presents final results from the first large-scale, long-term study of independent, corporate, and community foundations' expenses and compensation. Key findings include: Foundations differ greatly in their structures, resources, and operating characteristics and these differences significantly affect their expense levels. Employment of staff is the single most important factor affecting expense levels, followed by staff size and level of program activities. Most foundations do not compensate board members; those that do are most often staffed and independent. There is relatively little year-to-year change in the factors that drive expense ratios and in how foundations allocate their charitable administrative expenses.

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What Drives Foundation Expenses & Compensation? Results of a Three-Year Study, Highlights

February 1, 2008

This brief presents key findings from the latest report of the Foundation Expenses and Compensation Project—the first large-scale, longterm, systematic study of independent, corporate, and community foundations' expense and compensation patterns and the factors behind them. Documenting the varying characteristics of the 10,000 largest U.S. grantmaking foundations, the study finds these differences—including foundation type, size, and operating activities—essential for understanding foundation finances. Not surprisingly, hiring staff and taking on staff-intensive activities raise charitable administrative expenditures relative to charitable distributions, while relying on unpaid board and family members and engaging in less-staff-intensive activities lower them. Most foundation operations, however, are somewhere between these poles.

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Foundation Expenses and Compensation: How Operating Characteristics Influence Spending

January 27, 2006

This report examines the impact of a broader range of operating charateristics on the spending patterns of the 10,000 largest independent, corporate, and community foundations by giving. It provides an overview of the composition of expenses of the three types of foundations and documents how major differences in foundations' operating characteristics have an impact on their expense levels. The appendices include the methodology of the study, the list of variables as well as benchmarking tables.

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Foundation Expenses and Compensation: Interim Report

January 1, 2005

This study documents the expense and compensation patterns of the 10,000 largest U.S. independent, corporate and community foundations (ranked by giving) in 2001. Data is displayed in tables, graphs, and charts. The report gives an insight into the impact of differences in foundation operating styles on charitable expenses.

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