New “Telling Our Giving Stories” Report Issued

Native American-led Grantmaking Programs are Helping Bankroll Crucial
Community Development Efforts

LONGMONT, Colo.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Across the U.S., there are 63 active, Native American-led grantmaking
programs that are making major contributions to the social and economic
well-being of their local communities, regions and the nation as a
whole. These efforts are aimed at improving education, health, economic
development and cultural preservation. A just-published report tells
some of the stories behind these Native-driven philanthropic endeavors
that show the substantial and lasting impact of tribal philanthropy.

Titled “Telling
Our Giving Stories: Native Philanthropy and Community Development”

and published today by First Nations Development Institute (First
), a highlight of this report is a case study of Oregon’s
community-based Native foundations. The Oregon case shows that by
working collectively and collaboratively, tribal giving programs can
multiply their outcomes beyond their individual grantmaking
contributions and leverage their investments into greater influence,
resources and impact. For example, since 2001, these tribal foundations
have given more than $100 million in grants, positively impacting the
local community, state and beyond.

“As educators and advocates for Indian County, we at First Nations are
painfully aware that few people know there are actually numerous
Native-led grantmaking programs in North America,” noted First Nations
President Michael Roberts (Tlingit). “As such, we felt it was
important to share the giving stories of these grantmakers and catalyze
a national conversation on the very positive contributions they are
making inside and outside their communities.”

Authored by Sarah Dewees of First Nations and John Phillips of John
Phillips Consulting, some of the report’s major findings include:

  • Tribal governments are very active in formal philanthropy. Of the 63
    active Native grantmaking programs in the nation, a majority (41) are
    tribally affiliated. The remaining 22 are non-tribally affiliated
    Native nonprofit grantmaking programs.
  • The majority of Native grantmaking programs have no endowment, which
    represents a significant area of need.
  • The report documents that a large and growing number of tribes and
    Native nonprofit organizations are using philanthropy to protect
    Native financial assets, capitalize economic development programs in
    their communities, and support their cultures.
  • Oregon’s six community-based Native foundations, in particular,
    represent a potential model of Native philanthropy at a state level
    that may help tribes leverage their giving programs into statewide
    philanthropic and political influence, among other things, including
    an opportunity to educate non-Indians on their histories, cultures,
    values, assets and aspirations. The six formal tribal foundations in
    Oregon gave more than $5.6 million in grants in 2014.
  • Staff members at most Native-controlled grantmaking programs
    interviewed for the report expressed a need and a desire for increased
    technical assistance, networking opportunities and leadership
    development in order to boost their organizations’ capacities.
  • Several Oregon tribal foundations are moving toward giving programs
    aimed at other tribes and to national Native American organizations,
    which represents an interesting development in tribal giving.

The full report is available as a free download from the First Nations
online Knowledge Center at this link:
(Note: You may have to create a free account if you don’t already
have one in order to download the report.)


First Nations
Program Contact:
Dewees, 540-371-5615
First Nations’ Senior Director of Research,
Policy and Asset-Building Programs

Randy Blauvelt, 303-774-7836 x213
Nations’ Senior Communications Officer