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Friday, May 30, 2008

Foundation to increase available funds by $500G

By Maria Garriga
Register Staff
NEW HAVEN
— The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven plans to increase its giving by $500,000 starting Jan. 1 at a time nonprofit agencies face a battered economy, tougher fund-raising and reduced grants from foundations.
Roughly half will be available through competitive grants.
The 80-year-old Community Foundation’s endowment exceeds $300 million, and the increase will bring the spending rate to 5.75 percent from 5.25 percent, said Chief Executive Officer William Ginsberg.
This move goes against the current among institutional donors. In a survey released May 1, The Council on Foundations reported that 52 percent of foundations said they would have a lower level of grants next year and only 46 percent said they could maintain this year’s level of grants. Many foundations had increased their giving by 10 percent in 2007, only to retreat or hold firm this year.
Ginsberg said market volatility does not affect the foundation’s stability because its investment strategy focuses on creating a steady revenue stream to support donations.
“The fact that we raised our spending rate is independent of the market. We raised our rates because we believe we can cover that rate of spending over the long term,” he said.
In 2007, the foundation gave $12 million in grants to nonprofit agencies in Greater New Haven, and nearly $6 million went to nonprofit agencies through competitive grants.
But the foundation remains attentive to intensifying pressures faced by nonprofit agencies, and plans to meet with community groups to get feedback on the situation.
The grants help provide a vital lifeline to agencies that provide community services yet forecast lean budgets and increased need.
“What we’re seeing in our nonprofit partners is that giving is flat, but prices are higher. Do we see challenges ahead? Absolutely,” said Michelle Wade, communications director for United Way of Greater New Haven. Food pantries, soup kitchens and homeless shelters have had an influx of new faces, she added.
Christian Community Action, one of the foundation’s grant recipients, offers services to the homeless, job training, food, clothing and training for economically disadvantaged people in political advocacy.
“The demand for services is up, and giving overall (and particularly individual, business and foundation giving) is down,” said CCA spokesman Al May.
Ginsberg expressed confidence in the foundation’s ability to maintain giving rates in the future.
“This is the value of a perpetual institution,” he said.
Maria Garriga can be reached at mgarriga@nhregister.com or 789-5726.

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