Grantmaking in Idaho Is On the Rise. Here's a Closer Look

boise, ID. photo:  Charles Knowles/shutterstock

boise, ID. photo:  Charles Knowles/shutterstock

As part of our ongoing effort to dive deeper into Northwest giving trends, we’re taking a look at the current state of philanthropy in Idaho. When compared to Washington and Oregon, Idaho has far fewer philanthropic resources and donors giving locally. And Idaho nonprofits don't necessarily make it onto the radar of the big national funders. But with just over 1.6 million people in the state, there are still some interesting foundations to keep an eye on here.

According to a Philanthropy Northwest report, grantmaking in Idaho is increasing. Between 2012 and 2014, for example, giving here rose 13 percent. During this period, 613 funders gave a total of $71.4 million to 1,074 organizations.  The top two funding areas here are education, which makes up about 32 percent of overall giving, and human services, which makes up about 17 percent. That's a pretty typical pattern in other states. 

The top grantmaker in Idaho is the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation and its grants make up a sizable portion of the state’s philanthropic dollars at work. We wrote about this funder two years ago, spotlighting Albertson's push to increase the number of young people in Idaho who attend college. Over the past half century, the foundation has given more than $600 million to support Idaho’s communities and education systems.

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Other big funders that are based in Idaho and that give to nonprofits in Idaho are the Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation, the Idaho Community Foundation, and the Micron Technology Foundation. Micron recently named the Boise Rescue Mission its local charity of choice, which is a company program that allows employees to choose close-to-home causes for corporate donations.

It's worth mentioning that Idaho is home to a burgeoning tech scene, so we wouldn't be surprised to see more philanthropy emerging from this industry over time. We've written often about the rising philanthropic spirit in the tech world; hopefully Idaho will benefit from that spirit as its tech companies mature. 

Idaho is a place known and loved for its mountainous landscape, wide-open wilderness, and thriving wildlife populations. So, it doesn’t come as a huge surprise that Idaho grantmaking is more geared towards sports and recreation than some other places in the Northwest. Also, statewide support for the environment and animals is generally stronger in Idaho than that for health or arts and culture.  

Philanthropy Northwest has noted that sports and recreation funding in a recent year made up nine percent of total funding, compared to just two percent in the six-state Northwest region overall. Meanwhile, environment and animals grants constituted 12 percent of total funding. For example, the Idaho Community Foundation awarded a $79,119 grant to the John Jackson Rock Climbing Team, a grant that would be extremely rare to see of in many parts of the U.S. In other news, the Idaho Community Foundation recently named five new board members to its board of directors.

To learn more about the Northwest funders mentioned here and many others, check out IP’s new Northwest funding guide. One local upcoming event to keep on your radar for November is Idaho Philanthropy Day. Celebrations are actually taking place on three different days in Idaho Falls, Boise, and Coeur d’Alene with awards, events, and training workshops.