Community Foundations Seek to Address Racial and Social Justice Issues in 2021 – NEPC Survey

March 23, 2021 9:00 AM EDT

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BOSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- NEPC, LLC today announced the results of a Community Foundation Survey, fielded at the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 lockdown in the United States.

The findings highlight community foundations’ vital role in supporting their local communities during a year of turbulence and hardship. Key takeaways include:

  • The pandemic significantly changed philanthropy and donor behavior. More than two-thirds (69%) of community foundations reported an increase in donations in 2020 and 46% reported an increase of at least 10%. In contrast, 19% reported a decrease of that same magnitude. In 2021, 63% expect an increase in donations from donor-advised funds, in part due to possible tax changes under the Biden administration.
  • Small community foundations were hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. Community foundations with more than $1 billion in assets were disproportionately the beneficiaries of the donation surge. Not a single small community foundation (less than $250 million in assets) reported an increase in donations of 10% or more.
  • Foundations place continued focus on racial inequity. Nearly all (87%) expect to see increased donations to combat racial inequity in the next year. In parallel, community foundations increased their grantmaking efforts to address racial and social justice issues (reported by 91%) and healthcare-related causes (reported by 83%) over the last year.
  • Diversity is a chief priority for community foundations. 71% plan to increase the number of diverse-led managers they invest with in the year ahead. Most respondents (70%) are prioritizing the diversity of their investment staff as well, with 45% taking steps to increase diversity in 2021 and 25% reporting already having taken steps to do so.

“Community foundations are essential pillars of support for their local communities and they’ve demonstrated incredible strength and commitment during a difficult year,” said Sam Pollack, Partner in NEPC’s Endowments and Foundations practice group. “The primary challenge for community foundation leaders will be a question of balance: spending aggressively now to address societal needs while maintaining their ability to serve the community in the future.”

NEPC’s Community Foundation Survey was fielded in March 2021 and includes the perspectives of the nation’s leading community foundations and their leaders.


NEPC is an independent investment consultant and private wealth advisor, serving 391 retainer clients and $1.1 trillion in total assets. NEPC builds forward-looking investment portfolios for 146 endowment and foundation clients, representing over $88 billion in assets. To learn more visit

Kerry Mullen

Source: NEPC, LLC

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