Support from large foundations declined for a second consecutive year in 2003, as grantmakers adjusted to prior asset losses. Among the more than 1,000 larger private and community foundations included in the Foundation Center's grants database, giving fell 10.1 percent to $14.3 billion. Support for most major subject areas declined, and the distribution of foundation grant dollars remained about the same. However, certain subfields -- such as voter education, disaster preparedness, national security, and arms control -- managed to realize substantial growth in funding.
Despite the decline in overall giving, foundations continued to increase the share of their funding targeted for operating support. This finding suggests a responsiveness on the part of foundations to the needs of nonprofits during difficult economic times. At the same time, foundations continued to reduce the volume and size of their very largest grants, especially capital grants.