Boston – Donations to the Boston Foundation increased sharply in 2005, with a record $73 million raised as a result of 716 individual gifts made to the Foundation. That is the largest amount of money ever raised in a single year by the Foundation, which was established in 1915. It represents an increase of more than $15 million over the second-greatest amount raised in a single calendar year, which was $57.8 million in 2000.
The total market value of Foundation assets also set a record in 2005 of $731.8 million.
“This is a powerful affirmation of the work of the Boston Foundation,” said Paul S. Grogan, President and CEO of the Foundation. “But what is more important, this increase in generosity is a resounding vote of confidence in the future of Greater Boston. We know the region faces important challenges; however, this unprecedented level of charitable giving makes it clear that the strengths outweigh the weaknesses and that area residents are optimistic about the future here.”
Under the direction of its current President and Board of Directors, the Boston Foundation has expanded its mission in recent years. Funding nonprofits in the city and the region continues to be a critical part of the organization’s work; however, the Foundation has also continued to develop its role as a convener of leaders, stakeholders and experts, sponsoring research and using it to build consensus about a civic agenda that identifies and addresses the major challenges faced by the region in an age of increasing global competition and mobility.
“Gifts to the Foundation strengthen our ability to serve the region, and serve as a key indicator of the direction of charitable giving in the region,” said Ruben Orduña, Vice President for Development for the Boston Foundation. “It is important to note that the last time we approached giving at this level, it was during the Dotcom boom, when new ventures were frequent and stock prices were extremely high. Investors saw paper profits soar and responded with great generosity. Today, the economy is less dynamic, and there are far fewer IPOs, and yet giving is at unprecedented levels. And the past six months also put huge demands on giving, with the tsunami in Southeast Asia, the hurricanes in the Gulf Coast, and the earthquake in Pakistan and India.”
Grants made by the Foundation also increased significantly in 2005. A total of more than $60 million was distributed in that calendar year. Grantmaking continued to support a wide range of organizations.
Key initiatives that carry the work of the Foundation beyond grant making include the Boston Indicators Project, which integrates a wide range of data into ten indicators that track the well-being of the region and provide access to a wealth of information. The Indicators Project represents a collaboration with the City of Boston/Boston Redevelopment Authority and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council. It draws on the expertise of hundreds of experts and stakeholders and taps data generated by the region’s public agencies, civic institutions, think-tanks and civic organizations. More information about the Indicators Project, which has been widely honored as a national model, is available at www.bostonindicators.org.
In addition, the Foundation has produced an ongoing series called Understanding Boston, which sponsors new research, publishing reports and holds public forums and educational events to bring attention to issues that affect Boston and the region. Recent examples of Understanding Boston reports include the annual Greater Boston Housing Report Card, which established in 2005 that Boston had become the most expensive place to live in the country for a family of four, Generosity and Geography, the first in a series of reports on philanthropy in Massachusetts. This report, which was widely reported, showed that the so-called annual Generosity Index was totally misleading when it labeled Massachusetts residents as stingy in their philanthropy. These and other Understanding Boston reports are available in PDF form on the Foundation’s website, at www.tbf.org.
“Our role is to leverage talent,” said Grogan. “We use our relationships with local leaders and donors to build a common understanding of how the wellbeing of the region may be threatened, determine what we can do about it, and then catalyze a solution that engages the support of the business, civic and political leadership.”
One recent example of the role of the Foundation as a civic leader includes the creation of the Commonwealth Housing Task Force. This included leaders from all sectors and addressed the issue of the lack of affordable housing in the region. The Task Force established the high cost of housing as a critical issue and a threat to the region’s wellbeing, and developed a strategy to address the issue. Because of the credibility of the Task Force and the research it brought to public notice, legislation known as 40R and 40S were past during the past legislative session which is expected to increase the supply of affordable housing in SmartGrowth zones in communities around Boston and across the Commonwealth.
Increased giving to the Foundation not only empowers its work as a civic leader, it reflects changes in Greater Boston’s philanthropic culture.
“People give when they trust the organization will serve their philanthropic and civic purposes,” said the Rev. Ray Hammond, Chairman of the Foundation’s Board of Directors. “There is a lot of work to be done here, and it is deeply inspiring to see people who live in Greater Boston act with such generosity. Our personal challenge at the Foundation is to make every gift count, in a thoughtful and strategic way, to build a better, more equitable life for every resident. This good news should give all of us greater confidence as we face the future.”
The Boston Foundation, Greater Boston’s community foundation, is one of the oldest and largest community foundations in the nation, with an endowment of over $731 million. In 2005, the Foundation and its donors made more than $60 million in grants to nonprofit organizations and received gifts of $73 million. The Foundation is made up of some 850 separate charitable funds established by donors either for the general benefit of the community or for special purposes. The Boston Foundation also serves as a major civic leader, provider of information, convener, and sponsor of special initiatives designed to address the community’s and region’s most pressing challenges. For more information about the Boston Foundation, visit www.tbf.org or call 617-338-1700.