A golden age of philanthropy is dawning.
With the stock market booming and the super-rich getting even richer, charitable organizations are already seeing a wave of new money. The trend was already apparent before Warren Buffet pledged 85% of his $44 billion fortune to charitable foundations - the bulk of it to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
While it is difficult to capture a completely accurate picture of charitable giving in the U.S., some of the segments commonly used by the wealthiest individuals such as donor-advised funds and private foundations are seeing an influx of new contributors.
For example, giving by the nation’s 71,000 grant-making foundations last year rose 11.7% to $40.7 billion, according to estimates by the Foundation Center, a leading authority on philanthropy. The gain followed a 14.3% increase from 2004 to 2005.
Independent and family foundations, which account for the nearly nine out of 10 foundations, increased their giving by 10.3% in 2006, the Foundation Center said. That’s the first double-digit gain since 2001.
“It really is a golden moment where we are seeing a convergence of demographics and other trends,” said Council of Foundations President and Chief Executive Steve Gunderson.
The latest big splash came August 20 when Nike founder Phil Knight and his wife Penny pledged a $100 million to the University of Oregon, his alma mater, to create an athletics fund.
The tide of new money, fueled, in part, by strong gains in the stock market, shows no signs of stopping as new foundations are being created at a pace that has not been seen since the tech boom of the early 2000s. And foundations are only one piece of the activity.