Recession Hits Charitable Giving in 2008

The decrease in overall giving bucks a long trend of year-over-year increases or unchanged donation levels.

A report released Thursday by the Minnesota Council on Foundations (MCF) found that charitable giving in Minnesota in 2008 decreased from 2007, reversing a long trend of year-over-year increases or flat giving.

Charitable giving totaled $5.4 billion in the 2008 fiscal year, representing a 5 percent drop from 2007.

Donations from individuals dropped, but corporate and foundation giving increased slightly in 2008.

The annual report, called Giving in Minnesota, provides an analysis of the trends and patterns of organized philanthropy in the state. The 2008 fiscal year includes financial information from foundations and corporate giving programs with fiscal years ending between June 1, 2008, to May 31, 2009, and is the latest year for which data is available.

Foundation and corporate grantmaking accounted for $1.42 billion in 2008, an increase of 3.6 percent from $1.37 billion in 2007. Nearly half the grants were made by corporate foundations or giving programs. Top contributors include Target ($138 million), General Mills ($71 million), and Cargill (58 million).

About 40 percent of the grants were made by private foundations and 13 percent by community foundations. The McKnight Foundation, a private foundation, was the top in its category, giving away $99 million. The Saint Paul Foundation, which donated $64 million in 2008, topped the list of community foundations.

The value of foundation assets declined to $17.3 billion from $19.5 billion in 2007-representing the largest single-year asset decline since 1994.

Individual donations totaled $4.02 billion, a 7.7 percent decrease from $4.4 billion in 2007.

“This decrease in overall charitable giving in Minnesota reverses a long-term trend of slight increases or at least flat giving from year to year,” Bill King, MCF president, said in a statement. “But, we knew a drop was inevitable, given the steep recession and slow economic recovery.”

The Minnesota Council of Foundations is a community of grantmakers that advocate and promote charitable giving. Members include corporate giving foundations of companies such as Target, 3M, Cargill, U.S. Bank, Aveda, Mayo Clinic, and Medtronic.