Update on State of Foundation Research Funding- February - Slide 1
AND THE GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS
DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH DEVELOPMENT
HARVARD FACULTY OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
NCURA REGION I -- RADG
FEB. 26, 2009
Faith, Hope, and Charity
(aka: critical funding for world-
But maybe that’s not (yet) quite so
necessary as it now seems…
many of our
way to the
front of the
Some Quick Background
More than 72,000 grant-making foundations in the United
States, according to the Foundation Center
Provide a broad range of support for a broad range of
- Social services, advocacy, education, arts programs,
community building endeavors, and so on;
- Policy-related research and initiatives;
- Lab-based science, including dedicated funding
programs for scientists in the early stages of their careers .
Private Foundations: Who Funds Them?
Most foundations generate their grant-making budget via
some combination of endowment income, support from
other entities, and active fundraising, the outcome of
which is often also invested and/or dependent on
The (unfortunate) implication is that private foundations
are, like the rest of world, subject to the ups and downs of
the financial markets.
Indeed, a Council on Foundations report released in
February 2009 stated that the decline in asset values
among U.S. foundations in 2008 had averaged 28%
Not Necessarily All Bad News
Nonetheless, an October 2008 report from the
Foundation Center, which looked at the private
foundation community’s response to past economic
downturns, did offer some cause for optimism.
The report found that in past recessionary periods –
1980, 1981-1982, 1990-1991, and 2001 – U.S.
foundation giving in inflation-adjusted dollars did
not decline and, in fact, even increased slightly.
Not Necessarily All Bad News
Not Necessarily All Bad News
Multiple factors helped to moderate the impact of reduced assets on
overall foundation giving, most notably:
- Many foundations, including some of the nation’s largest,
determine their annual grant-making budgets based on a rolling
average of asset values over the prior two-five years – a practice that
contributes to more stable levels of giving among private
foundations in general
- A number of foundations were willing to dip into their capital
to ensure that previous multi-year commitments were met
- A few even increased their payout rate to provide needed
resources in the face of diminishing funding availability all around
Great! But what about the foundations that
fund our researchers???
Here’s the adage: If you know one private foundation,
then you know one private foundation.
Accordingly, the current responses of individual private
foundations to are all over the map. (In fact, the
Foundation Center cautions that the aggregate figures for
the early 2000s obscure the fact that some foundations
had to make deep reductions in their funding).
The slides that follow summarize what’s known about the
reactions of foundations with relevance for university-
based research -- with a strong emphasis on the “what’s
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
From JDRF website: “The economic upheaval of the past few months has
affected JDRF. JDRF’s safety, soundness, and liquidity are not impacted –
we are financially capable of weathering a financial downturn. However,
based on lower revenues and investment returns, JDRF must take action
now on all expenditures.”
Not accepting applications (originally due between January and March
2009) for: Program Project Grants; Regular Research Grants; Clinical
Investigation Grants; and Innovative Grants. The Scholar Awards program
for FY 2009 has also been cancelled.
JDRF will still accept applications in FY2009 for Postdoctoral Fellowships;
Advanced Postdoctoral Fellowships; Career Development Awards; Early
Career Patient-Oriented Diabetes Research Awards; High Priority, Short-
Term Bridge Awards, and assorted RFAs.
Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation
*Dedicated to the advancement of chemical sciences*
No official statement issued, beyond the fact that the
foundation will honor all outstanding commitments
A number of programs “suspended without further
The New Faculty Awards Program
The Faculty Start-Up Awards Program
The Senior Scientist Mentor Program
Active programs include:
The Dreyfus Prize in the Chemical Sciences
Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Awards Program
Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award Program (New Deadline)
Postdoctoral Program in Environmental Chemistry
Special Grant Program in the Chemical Sciences
Statement release February 23, 2009:
“After careful consideration, we have decided to suspend the
usual slate of grant programs for fiscal year 2010, which
begins the fall of 2009. We will not be accepting applications
for any of our programs except for our two newest, the Pre-
Term Birth Initiative and Career Awards for Science and
“Last November, we sent notices to our faculty awardees
alerting them that, although we will pay the full amount of
their grants, we would do so over an extended pay period.
This action has allowed us to preserve our assets during these
difficult times, enabling us better to be in a position to make
new awards when the economy improves.”
William and Flora Hewlett
Statement released October 29, 2008:
“The foundation plans to increase the percentage of
its endowment that will be paid out in grants in 2009
to help compensate for a recent sharp decline in its
assets. Despite the increased payout rate, the
foundation anticipates that its overall grant-making
in 2009 will likely decline by 5 – 7%. In addition, the
foundation will probably not embark on some new
initiatives it otherwise might have considered.”
Jane Coffins Child Memorial Foundation and
Helen Hayes Whitney Foundation
Jane Coffins Child -- Committed to continuing its
postdoctoral fellowship funding, and aiming to keep the
number of fellowships funded per year at about twenty –
but expects that it will have to fund a couple of fewer
fellowships this year.
Helen Hayes Whitney Foundation – Has already cut back
the number of fellowships awarded from 23 to 20;
expects a further drop in the number of fellowships
funded this year.
Damon Runyon Cancer Research Fund is facing a similar
The Medical Foundation (TMF): Farnsworth
Trust Scholars Program in Aging Research
The Farnsworth Trust Scholars Program in Aging
Research supports established researchers and policy
analysts, will not be offered for the 2009 cycle.
Patterson Trust Fellowship Program in Brain
Circuitry will not be offered for the 2010 cycle.
All other TMF-managed funding programs remain
intact. (See “good news” section).
David and Lucile Packard Foundation
Intends to honor current grant commitments and
increase payout rate from endowment.
However, the absolute dollar amount of grant
making will be down.
Statement released September 25, 2008:
“With the value of its holdings in American International
Group plunging 93% over the past year, the Starr
Foundation, which is financed largely by AIG stock, has
been forced to reduce its grant-making and either defer
or cancel many new initiatives. While new proposals will
be put on hold, the foundation will honor its existing
Smaller grants are predicted for the future. New initiatives
will be postponed or cancelled entirely.
Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation
Announced recently that it will award no new grants in 2009
due to $145 million loss resulting from Madoff investments.
Enormous impact for Boston-based organizations, which
received more than $100 million from the foundation over the
past decade. (Awardees include Brigham and Women’s
Hospital, Brandeis University, Boston Medical Center, and
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, to name just a few).
The foundation expects to honor its current commitments for
both capital projects and multi-year grants.
Other Madoff-Impacted Foundations
Picower Foundation, which has given some $268
million to a range of organizations including the New
York Public Library and the Picower Institute for
Learning and Memory at MIT, is shutting down.
The JEHT Foundation, which directed its funding
towards the promotion of justice, equality, and
human dignity, has also closed.
James S. McDonnell Foundation
Proposal guidelines include the following
“A letter from the appropriate administrative
official at the sponsoring institution stating that the
institution, as the official grantee… understands and
agrees that the award payments may be paid in
Not necessarily related to the current economy, but
an interesting spin given the circumstances!
The better news is that some foundations
have been energetically counting their
and it seems there is still some funding left…
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Gilliam Fellowships for Advanced Study Program
expanded from five to nine fellowships per year.
(Fellowships are intended to further the graduate science
education of talented students from disadvantaged
backgrounds who have worked in the labs of top HHMI
Up to $25 million in new grants will be awarded via an
expansion of the “Med into Grad” initiative, which aims
to support the development of graduate training
programs that incorporate an understanding of the
principles of medicine and disease into the education of
PhD researchers. (Awarded to institutions).
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Intends to award $3.8 billion in grants in 2009. This
is less than the foundation had anticipated giving
away, but still an increase over the funding it
distributed last year.
Encouraging other private and government funders
to keep making grants, despite/because of current
Ellison Medical Foundation
Committed to providing $40 million in Scholars
Awards in 2009.
The only change being considered is a redistribution
of foundation resources to once again fund
infrastructure awards. Infrastructure awards were
put on hold three years ago in order to double the
number of Scholars Awards provided, as a
counterweight to diminishing pay-lines at NIH.
Should NIH funding increase, infrastructure awards
will be resumed.
Searle Scholars Program
Major increase in awards from $240,000 to
$300,000 per award in January 2008. Fifteen
grants, which are among the top monetary awards
for exceptionally creative young scientists in
chemistry and the biomedical sciences, are awarded
No changes anticipated for the foreseeable future.
The Medical Foundation (TMF):
Most Funding Programs
The vast majority of TMF-managed funding programs
will remain active:
Charles A. King Trust Postdoctoral Fellowship Program
Charles H. Hood Foundation Child Health Research Awards
Davis Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship in Eating Disorders
Deborah Munroe Noonan Memorial Research Fund
Edward M. Kennedy Scholars Award in Health Policy Research
Goldhirsh Foundation Research Awards Program
Klarman Family Foundation Grants Program in Eating Disorders
Lymphatic Research Foundation Awards Programs
Smith Family Awards Program for Excellence in Biomedical Research
The Ford Foundation
Statement released December 15, 2008:
“The Ford Foundation has announced that it will honor all
outstanding commitments to its grantees and will increase, in
2009 and 2010, the percentage of endowment that is paid out
Ford’s president, Luis A. Ubinas noted that the foundation
was “highly liquid,” ensuring the capacity to continue making
grants without disruption. Ford also instituted a series of
aggressive internal cost controls early in 2008 that have
helped make more funds available for grant-making.
John D. and Catherine T.
Statement released November 17, 2008:
“The MacArthur Foundation understands the importance of
philanthropy in difficult economic times. While our endowment
has declined this year, we remain committed to being a long-term,
steady funder… In past recessions, we maintained our grant-
making level, and we intend to do so again now. Our total
philanthropy is increasing from 2007 to 2008. We also expect to
maintain or increase our grant-making in 2009, despite the
performance of the market to date.”
Carnegie Corporation of New York
Statement released December 19, 2008:
“… No sector has been immune to the downturn, not you
and not Carnegie Corporation of New York. Given the
gravity of the situation, we know that there are no simple
answers to the challenges that we all face. What is
certain, however, is that we remain committed to our
grantees and to carrying out Andrew Carnegie’s vision of
philanthropy… We are focused today on making certain
that all our grantees… know that Corporation support
will be there for them. Most important of all, we are
committed to fulfilling all the grants that have
Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Statement released November 5, 2008:
“The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has certainly
experienced some of the effects of the current financial
environment. Nevertheless, we do not foresee significant
retrenchment or dislocations in our grant-making. All
existing commitments will be honored, and the Foundation
will continue to be alert to the needs of grantees as
John Templeton Foundation
Statement issued in July 2008:
Assets are expected to increase 50% by the end of 2009
following the death of the foundation’s founder.
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Statement released October 30, 2008:
“The Robert Wood Johnson has been affected
directly by the turbulence and downturns in the financial
markets over the past few months. Yes, our financial
assets are lower than they were earlier this year. But the
long-term nature of our mission and our objectives…
dictate that we not react to daily fluctuations in the
financial markets…. For 2009, we expect our
program budget for grants to be approximately
the same as 2008 levels, unless future financial
circumstances warrant a course correction.”
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
Statement issued October 22, 2008:
Announced grants totaling $2.7 million as part of a
new initiative to study the ongoing financial markets
crisis and improve public understanding of
economics and finance.
Grants awarded to the Brookings Institution, NBER,
the Wharton Financial Institutions Center, and the
NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.
The answer is: We don’t know.
Harvard FAS’ Sciences Division has active funding
from 111 private foundations, total. All those that
have released statements or responded to phone
calls are noted here.
The Foundation Center has launched an on-line news room,
called “Focus on the Economic Crisis, that provides ongoing
updates, reports, and other resources:
Foundations that fund the sciences are tougher to track.
The daily headlines have
got all of us expecting the worst…
There will likely be enough funding
available to keep our scientists
doing their science…
But with a
just a little
bit of luck…
And our scholars immersed in
their papers and books…
And then our faculty can stop worrying
about finding money and go back to scaling
new (intellectual) heights…
If we are
Those of us who support them can
kick up our heels and enjoy the
Questions and comments are welcome!
Director of Research Development
FAS Research Administration Services
Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences