NCFP’s inaugural study on trends in family philanthropy, Trends 2015, was the first benchmark study of its kind, designed to collect timely and actionable information about the field at a national level. The study’s findings shed light on common challenges and have guided many in their philanthropy decisions.

Trends 2020 includes new questions relevant to ongoing changes in the field including issues of equity, place-based giving, transparency, the role of the donor, and the question of spend down versus perpetuity. These questions were developed by the Trends in Family Philanthropy National Advisory Committee, NCFP staff, and our experienced research partner, Phoenix Marketing International.

Here are some of the findings:

  • Older and larger family foundations focus their giving geographically, while the vast majority of newer family foundations (those formed since 2010) focus their giving on issues.
  • Compared to 2015 Trends Study results, the oldest foundations are slightly more likely to be place-based than they were five years ago, while the newest foundations are significantly more likely to focus on issues than they were five years ago.

Foundation Focus

  • Giving amounts have grown since this study was last completed in 2015. However, while giving has increased, the number of grants awarded each year has declined somewhat, indicating there are fewer but larger grants.
  • Consistent with findings in 2015, the top two focus areas for family foundations are education and poverty.

Newer family foundations (those created in 2010 or after) appear to have significantly different giving priorities, with far more focused on economic inequality and/or basic needs funding (including poverty, hunger, or homelessness and economic opportunity/inclusion), and significantly fewer focused on education.

Percent Giving 50 or More Grants In Past Year (By Year Established) (1)


Percent Giving $1M or More in Grants in Past Year (By year established)

Read the rest of the results on trends in family philanthropy at the National Center For Family.