Foundations Raise Charity Gifts but Firms Cut Back

Times Staff Writer

A survey of 74 leading Southern California foundations and corporations shows that they gave more than $253 million to nonprofit charities in 1986--almost $27 million more than the year before.

But while the foundations increased their donations by almost 46%, the businesses, many hit by economic problems, gave 9% less.

Although the study, just released by the Southern California Assn. for Philanthropy, examines donations given more than a year ago, it is thought to be the first of its kind locally. It also provides a glimpse of who gets what percentage of local philanthropy.

"Considering the many economic factors during that year--mergers, acquisitions, oil prices, deregulation of the financial community--the corporate figures could have been worse," said Lon Burns, association president.

The strong showing of the foundations reflects the strength of their investment portfolios, he added: "They don't have to worry about how many cars they sold."

The private foundations in 1986 gave $121 million, contrasted with $111 million for the corporations. Donations from other sources totaled $24 million.

The study was the second conducted by the association to assess the charitable giving of its members, which includes 104 private sector funders. The figures do not yet reflect long-range trends for the charity business. Also, several of the major local foundations--including the Norton Simon Foundation, Norris Foundation and Leavey Foundation--did not participate.

However, as more of the yearly surveys are done, the figures, which have been unavailable elsewhere, will become more valuable for local grant makers, Burns said.

The survey polled 96 organizations, most of which are in Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties. The total giving for those 96 was $282 million.

Figures showed that the foundations and corporations tended to give in the geographical areas of their headquarters. About 63% of those polled donated only to Southern California charities, 15% to other agencies throughout the state and 21% to groups outside of California.

Charities devoted to the arts, education and humanities, were big beneficiaries, while groups devoted to social services, health and hospitals lost ground.

Gifts to education, which nationally is not a top draw, totaled $108 million, up $20 million. Donations to the arts and humanities, were nearly $43 million, an increase of almost $8 million. Donations to social service agencies were $43 million, down by $7.2 million, and gifts to nonprofit organizations in the health and hospital field was $26 million, down $6 million.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World