Community foundations and United Way affiliates are important sources of local philanthropic capital. As critical as these institutions are in supporting the work of nonprofits and addressing community needs, extensive data on their grantmaking activity have been lacking. This analysis of grants made by 1,650 community foundations and local United Ways and accounting for over $20 billion between 2012 and 2016 yields the following insights:

  • A substantial share of the grant dollars disbursed by United Ways supported human services organizations (62 percent), whereas community foundations distributed their funds more evenly across organizations working in education (24 percent), human services (20 percent), the arts (13 percent), and health (12 percent).
  • The vast majority of grant funding was directed to organizations located in the same community as the grantmaking institution both for United Ways (91 percent) and, to a lesser extent, community foundations (71 percent).
  • The typical grantmaking institution directed over one-third (35.4 percent) of its grant volume toward local organizations involved in community and economic development. The median value for United Ways (55.4 percent) was more than three times that for community foundations (16.3 percent).

More information on the grantmaking activity of each of the 1,650 community foundations and United Ways included in this analysis is available in the online data appendix.