These were the ten states with the fewest foundation assets in 2005. They are largely rural.

Rural states continue to have low levels of philanthropic support, according to a report just released by the Big Sky Institute in Helena, Montana. And the philanthropic gap between big, urban states and smaller, rural states continues to grow, according to the Big Sky report.

The Montana research group describes a “philanthropic divide” between rural and urban America. Over the last several years, Montana Sen. Mac Baucus has argued that small, rural states have been ignored by the philanthropic community. Baucus in 2006 urged the foundation community to “double foundation grants to rural areas in five years.”

The Big Sky report shows that this hasn’t happened — that, in fact, the gap between rural and urban states is growing wider. Baucus, meanwhile, as Chair of the Senate Finance Committee has continued to jawbone foundations into increasing their giving in rural states, but hasn’t taken any concrete action that would require them to change the way grants are awarded. “To date, Senator Baucus has used the bully pulpit of encouragement,” wrote Big Sky executive director Michael D. Schechtman. “He has proposed no policy changes, giving the national foundation community ample room and opportunity to respond to the challenges and opportunities he has put forward.”

These are the ten states with the most foundation assets. They are states with predominently urban populations.

The report gives a straightforward accounting of foundation resources. It compares the ten states with the most in-state foundation money with the ten states having the least foundation assets. (See charts below.)

The report finds that assets and per capita grantmaking in urban states have increased faster than in rural states. In 2005, for example, foundations in the ten states with the most foundation assets gave $171 per person in grants. In the ten states with the fewest assets, the per person average was $34. Over the following two years, per capita grants in the rich states increased while in the poor states giving stagnated.

So what? “In the Divide states, where there are fewer foundations, fewer wealthy individual donors, fewer major corporate givers and limited access to out-of-state foundations, local nonprofits often find themselves straining to play larger roles with the same, or shrinking, budgets,” the Big Sky report concludes. There are fewer community foundations in these states, and fewer chances to tap into the resources of large, national foundations.

Creative Commons License

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.