2019 Annual Review: Grantmaking

  • Afghan Women’s Network empowers its members to participate in Afghanistan’s political processes and efforts to secure justice and peace. Photo courtesy of Afghan Women’s Network.
  • The Blue Initiative Fund, a project of The Paradise International Foundation, engages Chinese philanthropists to support marine ecology, sustainable fishing, and ocean conservation. Photo courtesy of The Paradise International Foundation.
  • NYC traffic was shut down by Rainforest Action Network activists protesting Chase Bank funding oil pipelines. Photo by Erik McGregor (erikmcgregor.com).

Grantmaking is the core of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund’s work. In 2019, the Fund awarded 352 grants totaling $38.7 million. The average grant amount was approximately $110,000.

As a result of a generous bequest from the estate of David Rockefeller, the Fund’s 2019 grantmaking budget increased by more than 10 percent over the previous year. The Fund’s board of trustees also authorized full delegated authority grantmaking beginning in 2019. Delegated authority allows grants to be awarded by approval of the president or executive vice president for programs and communications on a rolling basis throughout the year to better respond to the needs of grantees.

 
Grantmaking figures vary each year depending on several factors, including multiyear grant commitments and availability of funds. The Fund began 2019 with 31 percent of its grantmaking budget already committed for payment of grants awarded in prior years.

Grants Awarded by Program
  2017 2018 2019
Democratic Practice 67 76 70
Peacebuilding 53 63 66
Sustainable Development 58 55 56
Pivotal Place: China 17 19 26
Pivotal Place: Western Balkans 31 24 48
Culpeper Arts & Culture 37 34 42
Other 65 51 44
Total 328 322 352

Twenty-six percent of grants made in 2019 were awarded to new grantees, which reflects a slight increase over 2018. Of grants awarded to previous recipients, 32 percent were for new purposes. Most 2019 grants were for one year; 36 percent were for two or more years.

Just under one-third of all grant dollars awarded in 2019 provided general support to help grantees meet core operating needs. General support has consistently constituted 20–30 percent of the Fund’s annual grantmaking, but varies year to year and by program, depending on the nature and size of grant requests. Much of the Fund’s grantmaking also supports institutes and initiatives through universities and fiscal sponsors; although these grants are categorized as “project-based” to reflect their institutional structure, in practice they function as general support.

Sixty-nine percent of 2019 grant dollars were awarded to U.S. organizations. This figure includes support for international efforts of organizations who maintain headquarters in the United States.

More than two-thirds of 2019 grant dollars supported work outside of the United States through the Fund’s pivotal place programs in China and the Western Balkans, as well as through the Peacebuilding program, the Democratic Practice program’s Global Challenges portfolio, and the Sustainable Development program. The Fund also made exploratory grants in Latin America in 2019 to support the future development of an RBF pivotal place program in the region. Staff make every effort to support local organizations.

Grant Payments

The Fund made grant payments in 2019 totaling $37.6 million. This figure differs from grants awarded because some grants are payable over more than one year. It does not include payments for non-grant appropriations, including consultancies and conferences at The Pocantico Center, which advance the Fund’s mission but do not take the form of traditional grants.

Grants paid include external donor contributions used to expand the Fund’s available resources and impact. In total, the Fund allocated $1.5 million in contributions from individuals and other foundations to support 2019 grants paid by the Peacebuilding, Pivotal Place: China, and Pivotal Place: Western Balkans programs.

2019 RBF Annual Review

Introduction

Featured Essay: A Broader Vision of Our Assets

Grantmaking

The Pocantico Center

Finance

Staff & Trustees

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