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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Understanding Foundation Expenses: Focus on Illinois

January 1, 2013

Understanding Foundation Expenses: Focus on Illinois defines and delineates charitable (programrelated) administrative and operating expenses, which are those that count toward a foundation's payout requirement. The report addresses specific questions such as: Which foundation costs are included in charitable administrative expenses? What are the limitations of Form 990-PF for reporting expenditures? How are charitable administrative expense levels measured? What are the most important factors driving expense levels? It also offers first-ever multi-year trend information (2008– 2010) detailing the expense practices of large Illinois independent foundations and compares them to the national experience.Intended for foundation leaders, policymakers, advocates, journalists, and the general public, this brief serves as a key resource for understanding foundation operating and administrative expenses and as an unbiased source of facts on actual practice in Illinois.

Understanding and Benchmarking Foundation Payout

September 28, 2012

The vast majority of U.S. grantmaking foundations are required by law to distribute 5 percent of their investment assets annually for charitable purposes. While this requirement is commonly known, it is often not well understood.To provide a more informed perspective on how foundation payout works, Understanding and Benchmarking Foundation Payout defines and demystifies the concept of payout while addressing common misperceptions. The report addresses specific questions such as: What constitutes payout? How is the payout rate calculated? Why do foundation payout rates differ? It also delivers first-ever trend information detailing the payout practices of the largest U.S. foundations.Intended for policymakers, advocates, journalists, researchers, and the general public, this brief serves as a key resource for understanding payout and as an unbiased source of facts on actual practice.Among key findings from the new report:Most large endowed independent foundations paid out at or above the 5 percent required payout level during the period 2007 to 2009Nearly one-in-five endowed foundations had payout rates at or above 10 percentFew operating characteristics beyond endowment size were associated with consistently higher or lower payout rate practices, and variation was modestIn general, as endowment size increased, payout rates tended to decrease.

Special Topic Trends

Benchmarking Foundation Administrative Expenses: Update on How Operating Characteristics Affect Spending

September 1, 2012

This reportexplores how variations in foundations' characteristics, activities, and giving levels influence charitable (program-related) administrative expense levels for a sample of nearly 1,200 of the approximately 1,900 largest independent foundations between 2007 and 2009 (see "Sampling Information"). It updates a more detailed study of the largest foundations' 2004-2006 expenses. Since these organizations account for the bulk of foundation resources and spending, they are of paramount interest to policymakers, watchdog organizations, and foundation leaders concerned with self-regulation and developing standards. Like the previous report, this update builds on the foundations of a broader study of 2001-2003 expenses.This study's goals are to inform policy debates and foundation practices by documenting program-related administrative expenses and assessing the factors that drive these expenditures over time. By extending the research timeframe closer to the present, this study sheds light on expense levels and practices during the recent economic crisis. It confirms that expense patterns of large independent foundations that were clear and consistent in mid-decade -- when markets and asset levels were steadily rising -- remained mainly consistent in 2007-2009, despite the crash of financial markets and a deep slump in the economy and in foundation resources (see Foundation Finances and the Economic Crisis: A Different Perspective on page 6). Such consistency validates the importance of considering a foundation's operating characteristics when assessing its expenditures.

Special Topic Trends

Benchmarking Foundation Administrative Expenses: How Operating Characteristics Affect Spending

April 1, 2011

Policy discussions of foundations often focus on how much they spend on administrative activities relative to their grantmaking and programmatic activities. Foundations themselves seek guidance on this question from their peers and professional associations. Yet often missing in these discussions is the need to consider foundation differences -- such as size, operating characteristics, and programmatic activities -- when assessing foundations' administrative and operating expenses. These differences are profound even among the nation's largest independent foundations.

Special Topic Trends

Giving in the Aftermath of the 2005 Gulf Coast Hurricanes: Profile of the Ongoing Foundation and Corporate Response (2007-2009)

August 1, 2009

Private and community foundations awarded an additional $125 million in grant support for recovery and rebuilding efforts from January 2007 to mid-2009, according to Giving in the Aftermath of the 2005 Gulf Coast Hurricanes: Profile of the Ongoing Foundation and Corporate Response (2007-2009). Economic and community development captured the largest dollar share, a shift from giving for human services in the immediate aftermath of the disaster.

National Trends; Special Topic Trends

Perpetuity or Limited Lifespan: How Do Family Foundations Decide?

April 30, 2009

Presents findings on family foundations' choices to spend down or to exist in perpetuity and the factors involved, including foundation assets, age, and presence of a living founder. Explores potential effects of the economic crisis on lifespan planning.

Special Topic Trends

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.

Special Topic Trends

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.

Special Topic Trends

International Grantmaking Update: A Snapshot of U.S. Foundation Trends, 2006

October 1, 2006

Following a period of rapid growth, giving by U.S. foundations for international purposes declined in 2002.1 The stock market downturn, a recession, and a more difficult climate for giving in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the ensuing "war on terrorism" all contributed to this reduction in support. Since that time, several factors have heightened global economic and political instability: the uneven stock market recovery, record oil prices, an ongoing war in Iraq, and tensions with Iran and North Korea. Over the same period, the international community faced human tragedies of epic scale, from the Darfur crisis in Sudan to the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster. In this context of uncertainty and acute needs, how has international giving fared? This interim report, prepared by the Foundation Center in cooperation with the Council on Foundations, presents a brief update of key trends through 2005 and discusses the current outlook for giving. The study provides estimates of overall giving by private and community foundations; and an analysis of patterns of giving from 2002 to 2004 based on a sample of larger U.S. foundations (see "Sampling Base" for further details).

International Trends

Giving in the Aftermath of the Gulf Coast Hurricanes: Report on the Foundation and Corporate Response

August 1, 2006

Documents the scope, purpose, and recipients of hurricane response giving by foundations and corporations, and examines the impact of hurricane response funding on the grantmaking practices of larger private and community foundations.

National Trends; Special Topic Trends

Foundations Today: Growth and Giving Estimates, 2006 edition

April 3, 2006

Foundation Growth and Giving Estimates is part of the annual Foundations Today Series of reports on foundation growth and trends in foundation giving. It provides a "first look" at 2005 giving and directions for 2006 giving, together with aggregated actual 2004 giving and asset figures for close to 68,000 grantmaking U.S. foundations.

National Trends

Foundation Growth and Giving Estimates: 2006 Edition

April 3, 2006

Foundation Growth and Giving Estimates is part of the annual Foundations Today Series of reports on foundation growth and trends in foundation giving. It provides a "first look" at 2005 giving and directions for 2006 giving, together with aggregated actual 2004 giving and asset figures for close to 68,000 grantmaking U.S. foundations.