Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Report says rural states fall farther behind in assets of, and grants from, foundations

Already far behind cities in philanthropic resources, rural areas are falling even farther behind in terms of raw dollars held by foundations and grants received from them, says a report from the Montana-based Big Sky Institute, which is trying to direct more non-profit support to states with large rural populations.

The institute coined the term "philanthropic divide" to describe the problem. One measure of it is a comparison of the average foundation assets in the top 10 and bottom 10 states. In 1998, the top 10 averaged $26 billion and the bottom 10 averaged $398 million. The new report says that in 2005, the rich states averaged almost $37 billion and the poor ones $766 million. So, while the poor states' average assets are now 20 percent of the rich ones, up from 15 percent, the dollar gap -- the gross measure of philanthropic ability -- has grown from just under $26 billion to more than $36 billion.

An even more discouraging and recent trend is in per-capita grantmaking by foundations. As the chart shows, in 2005, recipients in the bottom 10 states got $35 per person. In 2007, it dropped to $34 per person, while grants to those in the top 10 states rose to $171 from $147 per person and the national per-capita figure rose to $117 from $94.

Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., has put public pressure on foundations to increase their rural giving, to the point that the Council on Foundations had a meeting on the issue in Montana about a year ago. But Bill Bishop notes in the Daily Yonder that Baucus "has continued to jawbone foundations into increasing their giving in rural states, but hasn't taken any concrete action that would require them to change the way grants are awarded." (Read more)

The bottom 10 states, from the bottom, are North and South Dakota, Montana, Vermont, Alaska, Mississippi, West Virginia, Idaho, New Hampshire and New Mexico. The top 10 states, from the top, are New York, California, Washington (hello, Bill Gates), Texas, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Illinois, New Jersey, Florida and Ohio.

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