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Do Private Foundations Hoard Wealth?

Do Private Foundations Hoard Wealth?

by Bill High

There’s been momentum building of late to force private foundations and donor advised funds to accelerate their giving.

In recent posts, I’ve talked about how donor advised funds are not just sitting and accumulating assets. To the contrary, we know that donor advised funds, in economic downturns, have reached deeper into their accounts to address current needs.

What about private foundations? We are sometimes led to believe that private foundations are greedily sitting on billions of dollars, hoarding assets and paying family members to the detriment of hurting charities.

In truth, “most private foundations are more ‘mom and pop’ than ‘Fortune 500’-style entities,”according to Page Snow in “Revealing the ‘Invisible’ 98% of Private Foundation” for Forbes.

She adds the following data from Foundation Source’s 2019 annual report:

  • 98% of all private foundations in the United States have less than $50 million each;
  • 67% have less than $1 million.

Snow further notes that while private foundations are only required to give 5% of their net assets, the 987 foundations in Foundation Source’s report disbursed an average of 7.3% of their assets in 2018. Smaller foundations, with less than $1 million in assets distributed 14.2% in 2018.

Remarkably, the foundations in the study granted nearly $300 million each year for both 2017 and 2018.

I’m reminded of the adage that when we look for the good in people we will surely find it.



Photo by Rodeo Project Management Software on Unsplash

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Published May 14, 2021

Topics: Culture Commentary | Giving Trends

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