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ASU Lodestar Center Blog

Research Friday: Who grants the most? Who gets the most?

Welcome to Research Friday! As part of a continuing weekly series, each Friday we invite a nonprofit expert from our academic faculty to highlight a research report or study and discuss how it can inform and improve day-to-day nonprofit practice. We welcome your comments and feedback.

Thanks to the 100 people who took our nonprofit sector quiz! In the quiz, we asked a few questions about Arizona's largest nonprofit organizations, in terms of assets, grantmaking, and donations. Some of the answers may have surprised you, so let's talk about a few of those trickier questions.

Who grants the most?

The term grantmaker typically refers to a nonprofit organization that grants money to other nonprofits. Most of the grantmakers in Arizona are private foundations. Even though they're nonprofits, private foundations are a little bit different, legally, than other nonprofits. They file a different 990 form (the 990 PF) and are also subject to additional rules and taxes.

Arizona is home to over 1,000 private foundations, and, as most people answered correctly in the quiz, the largest is the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust. It's the biggest both in terms of assets and grants made in the past several years. Some of the other large private foundations in Arizona include the Lincoln Institute for Land Policy and the Flinn Foundation.

Most people also consider the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust to be one of Arizona's largest foundations. Although it's legally housed in Indiana, it maintains an Arizona office and does roughly half its grantmaking in Arizona. (For those of you interested in Arizona's private grantmaking foundation landscape, The Foundation Center is great resource. A great local resource is the Arizona Grantmaker's Forum.)

The quiz also asked who Arizona's largest grantmaker was. It turns out not to be the Piper Trust — or any other private foundation, for that matter! In fact, it's the Valley of the Sun United Way. The United Way is a public charity — not a grantmaking foundation — but, as 58% of quiz takers recognized, it is the number one grantmaker in Arizona. In 2008, the Valley of the Sun made $50.1 million in grants, and, collectively, all United Ways in the state made nearly $65 million in grants. Unlike private foundations, the United Way doesn't do this through maintaining large assets which generate revenue. It does it through a broad-based annual fundraising campaign.

Who gets the most?

The quiz also asked which nonprofit organizations received the most donations and contributions. These are the familiar organizations people identify as major charitable organizations in our state. The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) tops the list; in 2009, the MDA received $175.4 million in grants and contributions. As 52% of our quiz takers recognized, this is not a local affiliate of the MDA, but is the national headquarters, located in Tucson, Arizona. Interestingly, the MDA can also be considered a large grantmaker, as it makes millions of dollars in research and medial grants each year (most of them out of state).

Among local nonprofits, St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance and Food for the Hungry also receive a large amount of donations and contributions. For St. Mary's Food Bank, much of the support comes in the form of food and other non-cash support. The ASU and University of Arizona Foundations are educational foundations that raise money to support their respective institutions.

This information can be found in the Center's 2010 Arizona Nonprofits: Scope of the Sector report. Click here to download your copy. We'll be updating this report in 2012.

Click here to view all of the quiz results. Were you surprised by any of the answers?

Stephanie La Loggia is the Manager of Knowledge Resources for the ASU Lodestar Center. Some of her past research projects include the Nonprofit Compensation & Benefits Report and Arizona Giving & Volunteering publications. Stephanie teaches undergraduate courses in the Nonprofit Leadership and Management program, and she has also been a youth summer camp director for over 20 years.


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