Diller-von Furstenberg Foundation: New York City Grants

OVERVIEW: The Diller-von Furstenberg Foundation is the creation of entertainment and Internet businessman Barry Diller and fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg. Their family foundation supports a wide range of common causes in New York City and other communities around the world.

FUNDING AREAS: Public Spaces, Community Building, Education, Human Rights, Arts, Health and the Environment

IP TAKE: The foundation contributes equally to well-established and up-and-coming nonprofits in New York City. Most of the grantmaking budget goes to community development, and public spaces, and art, so focus your introductory pitch accordingly.

PROFILE: The Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation was established in 1999 by Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg in order to “positively impact the world by improving people’s lives and strengthening communities.” Barry Diller's Internet company, IAC, has spearheaded hundreds of popular sites such as Match.com, Ask.com, and CollegeHumor.com. His travel company, Expedia Inc., has launched the familiar sites of Hotels.com and Hotwire.com. Previously, Diller was chairman and chief executive of Paramount Pictures, Fox Broadcasting Company, and Fox's motion picture operations. Diane von Furstenberg gained popularity with her iconic wrap dress that led to a global luxury lifestyle brand. Forbes named her the most powerful woman in fashion in 2012.  Although the foundation has both a local and a global focus, New York-based nonprofits are always given special consideration. The foundation prioritizes public spaces, art, and community building.

Past grantees include the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City, the New York City Outward Bound Center, New Yorkers for Children, and Continuum Cancer Centers. The foundation provided $20 million to help complete New York City's High Line Park, which features a 1.5-mile elevated railway along the west side of Manhattan. A list of grantees can be viewed here.

Diller-von Furstenberg grants prioritize community-building initiatives, some nationally recognized and some local passion projects. The foundation supports youth projects, especially Boys & Girls' clubs and social work organizations. Education is the next largest funding category, and local elementary and high schools tend to receive more grants than big-name universities. Grants are pretty evenly disbursed throughout the remaining focus categories, exhibiting more variety in grantmaking than the average foundation in New York City.

Diller-von Furstenberg normally gives $5 million to $10 million to non-profit organizations each year. Most grants are awarded for general operating support rather than specific project development. 

The foundation only contributes to pre-selected organizations, so there are no clear application guidelines for grantseekers. As foundation representative, Bethany Prechtl, told IP, "The Foundation is focusing efforts toward organizations with whom we already have established relationships and are not looking for new grantees at this point."

The best way to keep up with Diller-von Furstenberg dealings is to subscribe to its news blog, which is updated regularly. Alexander von Furstenberg can be reached at afn@iac.com.

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