Report: Non Profits Still Struggling with Economy

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Non profit organizations say they're still struggling with the economy, but enjoying a jump in investment returns.

Two reports were released Thursday by the Connecticut-based Commonfund Institute. The first study, entitled 2010 Commonfund Benchmarks Study of Foundations, shows private and community foundations and charities saw investments improve 21 percent on average in 2009. In 2008, the groups saw investments plummet by 26 percent.

The study was based on a survey of 130 private foundations and 43 community foundations with assets totaling $103.7 billion.

Another study, the 2010 Commonfund Benchmarks Study of Operating Charities, referenced 66 cultural, religious, and social service institutions to report an average net return of 21.5 percent, rebounding from -25.8 percent in 2008.

While 2009 saw the highest returns for foundations and operating charities in the eight and six years the studies have been conducted, respectively, the average three- and five-year returns for foundations were -1.1 percent and 3.6 percent for foundations and -0.7 percent and 4.0 percent for operating charities.

The recent economic crisis caused the nation's more than 75,000 grantmaking foundations to cut their 2009 giving by an estimated 8.4 percent -- by far the largest decline ever tracked by The Foundation Center. Grant dollars fell from $46.8 billion to $42.9 billion.

The Foundation Center, a national nonprofit service organization, is recognized as the nation's leading authority on organized philanthropy.

But other financial news for non profits remains bleak. The demand for services is still rising. Government contracts have decreased and donations have been down for many organizations for the last two years.

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