Education Funding

Corporate Giving to Education Grows at Record Pace

By Julie Blair — April 05, 2000 | Corrected: February 23, 2019 2 min read

Corrected: Donors gave $9.7 billion to the nation’s largest 1,009 foundations in 1998 to aid education. Funding given to higher education increased by 34 percent between 1997 and 1998.

America’s corporations have become the sugar daddies of the philanthropic world, a turn of events that experts say will benefit precollegiate and higher education over the long term.

The amount of money contributed by the nation’s 2,022 corporations skyrocketed by a record 22 percent between 1998 and 1999, outpacing gifts from independent and community foundations for the first time since the mid-1980s, a report released last week finds.

The study, completed by the Foundation Center, a New York City-based nonprofit organization that monitors giving, says that corporations donated an estimated $2.99 billion last year, up from $2.45 billion in 1998.

Follow-Up

“Foundation Growth and Giving Estimates” and (Highlights of) “Foundation Giving Trends” are available online. (Both requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.) Both are part of the “Foundation Today” series, available as part of that packet from the Foundation Center for $95 by calling (800) 424-9836.

The rise in contributions can be attributed to the profits made in the booming U.S. economy, according to the report, “Foundation Growth and Giving Estimates.”

“This is a real change from what we’ve seen throughout the 1990s,” when corporate growth in making contributions to education had been slower than at independent and community foundations, said Stephen Lawrence, the director of research for the Foundation Center.

Education the Top Cause

Giving overall by the nation’s 47,000 private-sector grantmakers jumped by 17 percent, from $19.5 billion in 1998 to $22.8 billion last year, the report says.

Funding from independent foundations grew by 17.3 percent, from $14.9 billion to $17.5 billion, in the same period. At the same time, donations from community organizations increased by 15 percent, from $1.5 billion in 1998 to $1.7 billion.

An earlier report, titled “Foundation Giving Trends,” released by the Foundation Center in February, showed that both K-12 and higher education continue to be the most popular causes among all types of donors, in line with the pattern throughout the 1990s. About 24 percent of the $9.7 million grant dollars given in 1998 by the nation’s largest 1,009 foundations went to education.

Precollegiate education received some $706.6 million in contributions during 1998, a 24 percent increase from $569.2 million the previous year, the February report said.

Colleges and universities, however, always garner the bulk of education donations, it noted. Donations totalling more than $1 billion went to higher education in 1998, a 10 percent increase from $739.7 million in 1997.

Donors continue to be interested in underwriting professional development for educators and have recently focused on programs that support urban superintendents, said Laura Fleming, the executive director of Grantmakers for Education, a nonprofit organization based in San Diego, Calif., that aids foundations and corporations in their philanthropic efforts.

Other popular causes include technology in schools, K-16 collaboration, and access to higher education for minority students, she said.

Philanthropists “are understanding it’s not just a matter of making scholarship money available [for minorities] but building in types of outreach programs, not only in high school and middle schools, but in elementary schools,” said Ms. Fleming.

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A version of this article appeared in the April 05, 2000 edition of Education Week as Corporate Giving to Education Grows at Record Pace

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