Trends 2017: Giving by Issue Area

Trends 2017: Giving by Issue Area

Key Findings

Health and education were top priorities for grantmaking to our region. Similar to national giving trends, more than half of grant dollars awarded to the Northwest were reported as funding for health (38%) and education (19%). The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation made significant grants in these issue areas, both regionally and nationally, in 2014.

  • The largest grant to the Northwest in 2014 was the Gates Foundation’s $156 million award to PATH — an international health organization based in Seattle — to accelerate the development of malaria vaccines.

Excluding the Gates Foundation, education received the largest proportion of grant dollars to the Northwest (22%), followed by health (18%). Higher education, including philanthropic gifts to universities, accounted for close to 50% of grant dollars awarded for education; more than one-third of dollars focused on K-12 funding, including strong support from place-based family foundations.

  • The Ford Family Foundation awarded $2.6 million to The Oregon Community Foundation in support of its Out-of-School Time program.
  • The Dennis & Phyllis Washington Foundation awarded a three-year $2.4 million grant to implement Montana’s EdReady Academic Readiness Curriculum for all ages.

Trends Over Time

Health funding grew fastest, followed by public affairs and education. Grant funding for health-related activities more than doubled between 2012 and 2014, fueled by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s rising support of Washington-based organizations focused on improving global health. Even when excluding the Gates Foundation, however, funding for health still increased by a significant 18%.

Funding for education, consistently a major priority for Northwest philanthropy, rose 32% between 2012 and 2014. Within this issue area, adult education, vocational education and higher education saw the fastest rate of growth.

Increased funding for public affairs, still a relatively small issue area but likely to continue growing as more foundations explore public policy and advocacy efforts,15 included a $10,000 award from Pride Foundation to Gender Justice League to support transgender activists and allies in Washington state.


Download Trends