Private-foundation assets lag pre-recession levels

Most private foundations have not regained the asset value lost from the collapse of the capital markets that began in September 2008, a new study says.

At the end of 2011, the endowments of private foundations with under $50 million in assets were still nearly 9 percent below their pre-recession values, says the study by Foundation Source.

Those foundations account for 98 percent of the roughly 80,000 private foundations in the U.S., the study says.

With donors contributing as much new capital to their foundations each year as the foundations grant out, it says, donors to private foundation since 2007 contributed fresh capital to their foundations at the rate of 104 percent of the amount the foundations made in grants, a percentage that does not include foundation expenses.

Despite growth in 2009 and 2010, asset levels at foundations fell 3 percent on average in 2011.

New capital contributions in 2011 grew 19 from the previous year but still funded only 84 percent of total grants plus expenses, compared to 72 percent in 2010, 94 percent in 2008 and 111 percent in 2009.

The study is based on data from 519 private foundations clients with assets under $50 million.

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