Philanthropic foundations love celebrating milestones to share their successes, check in with ongoing goals, and reassess strategies that may or not be working as planned. Recently, the Boston Foundation (TBF)—one of the most influential grantmakers in the Northeast region—just hit a big milestone that’s worth talking about.
With foundation giving reaching $129 million for the 2018 fiscal year, TBF has now exceeded the $1 billion mark for total giving over the past decade. The total amount of grants awarded in the past 10 years is greater than the total amount of grants made in all of TBF’s first 92 years—yet another telling metric that we’re living in golden age of philanthropy.
So where, exactly, have a billion dollars in grants by TBF gone over the past 10 years?
Lots of place, obviously. As a community foundation, TBF does much of its grantmaking through thousands of donors with a wide range of interests and personal allegiances. TBF grants aren’t necessarily Boston-specific, as donors can specify national and even international causes they wish to support.
That said, 17 of the top 20 TBF grant recipients in the past decade have been in Massachusetts—as you’d suspect. Massachusetts grantees represent more than 75 percent of grant dollars in the past 10 years, and about 70 percent of donor-advised grants have stayed in the state, as well.
Let’s take a quick look at which groups have been topping TBF’s grantmaking list for sustained support in recent years.
Based on recently released data, the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley has received the most from TBF between 2009 and 2018, followed by the New England Conservatory and Boston Ballet. Other groups that have been doing very well with TBF and its donor base include Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Boston Plan for Excellence in the Public Schools Foundation, Harvard University, and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston.
While grantmaking news catches the most attention for funders like TBF, it’s important to remember that foundations like this also serve as major civic leaders, research commissioners, and advocacy organizations.
Other issues that have been on TBF’s radar lately in big ways are the aftermath of Puerto Rico’s Hurricane Maria, LGBT equity in Massachusetts, and the rights of immigrants in Boston. At this time, TBF has net assets of over $1.2 billion and awards grants through over 1,000 charitable funds.