A Bird’s Eye View of USA Foundation Giving to INGOs

As the USA hosts 86,716 private foundations as of the latest count, and 27% of them support international activities, Laurence A. Pagnoni, IFC’s director based in the USA gives the lowdown on USA Foundations Giving…

A significant number of the nation’s largest foundations—as well as a few smaller foundations—engage in international grant-making, whether directly to organizations in other countries or through support for international programs conducted by organizations based in the United States, the latter often called “Friends Of Societies”. As the many thousands of newer foundations established by younger, more globally focused donors come of age, the number of foundations that incorporate an international focus in their work will undoubtedly continue to grow.

Fascinating Tidbits

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been the top international funder since 2004. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation made the single largest grant: $207.7 million to the Aeras Global TB Vaccine Foundation.

The Switzerland-based World Health Organization was the top recipient of international grant dollars.

International grants often benefit a specific country or region. However, as grants with a focus on multiple regions do not specify the share of support that targets each region, the full value of these grants is counted in the totals for each specified region. Here follows are the regions and what funding they receive.


Sub-Saharan Africa, 24% or $1.4 B US

Asia and the Pacific, 20% or $1.2 B US

Latin America and Mexico, 11% or $638 M US

Western Europe, 7% or $426 M US

North Africa and the Middle East, 5% or $302 M US

Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and Russia, 2% or $145 M USA

Canada, 1% or $74 M US

Caribbean, 1% or $58 M US


Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, $2.6 B US

Ford Foundation, $217 M US

William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, $202 M US

Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, $199 M US

Walton Family Foundation, $167 M US

Open Society Institute, $117 M US

David and Lucile Packard Foundation, $115 M US

Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, $98 M US

Foundation to Promote Open Society, $92 M US

John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, $84 M US

Optimistic Outlook

According to Foundation Center’s annual “Foundation Giving Forecast Survey,” overall foundation giving will continue to grow a few points ahead of inflation. Good news for all INGOs seeking USA support.

If LAPA Fundraising can help your INGO secure more private grants please email me. We usually start with a planning study to determine which foundations, and which approach are a right-fit for your organization. Happy Fundraising.

Laurence A. Pagnoni is Chairman of LAPA Fundraising, and a director of the International Fundraising Consultancy. He is author of the bestselling The Nonprofit Fundraising Solution.