At the end of 2003, it appeared that foundations were poised to return to a period of steady, substantial increases in giving. The stock market posted a doubledigit gain, following three consecutive years of declines, and foundation assets began to recover. The year-end optimism proved short-lived, however, and the market fluctuated widely in 2004. Despite some positive economic indicators, each worrisome development—an expanding deficit, rising oil prices, a deteriorating war situation, the general uncertainty in the run-up to the presidential election—sent the market down.
In this climate of uncertainty, overall private giving by individuals, foundations, and corporations grew a modest 5 percent to an estimated $248.52 billion in 2004.1 For the more than 66,000 U.S. grantmaking foundations, estimated giving increased 6.9 percent to a record $32.4 billion (Figure 1). While this gain in foundation giving fell below the 9.5 percent rise in foundation assets in 2003, giving was just over 6 percent higher than in 2001—the previous peak year for foundation giving.