National Foundation Study Reports Negative Investment Returns for 2018; Spending Rates Steady, Donations to Community Foundations Mixed
Data from the Council on Foundations-Commonfund Study Generally Positive for the Long Term, but Show Challenges Remain for Future Mission Support
New York, NY, August 15, 2019 — Data gathered in the 2018 Council on Foundations–Commonfund Study of Investment of Endowments for Private and Community Foundations® (CCSF) show that investment returns for participating private and community foundations declined to mid-single-digit losses in 2018 from double-digit gains in 2017. (All data collected are for the prior calendar year, January 1 through December 31.)
Participating private foundations reported an average 2018 return of -3.5 percent versus an increase of 15.0 percent for 2017. Participating community foundations reported an average return of -5.3 percent for 2018 compared with 15.1 percent for 2017. (All return data are reported net of fees.)
Two thousand eighteen represented the third time in the past 10 years that CCSF participants have reported flat to negative annual returns. The previous year represented the third time over the same period that average participant returns exceeded 15.0 percent. 2008—when returns were impacted by the financial crisis and great recession—dropped out of trailing 10-year calculations this year; losses in 2008 exceeded 25.0 percent for both private and community foundations.