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New Mexico is among the poorest and most severely under-resourced states in the nation. It ranks worst in the country in indicators such as high school graduation, child well-being, poverty, unemployment, recovery from the recession, and more. In most states, philanthropy is able to step in to fill gaps the state cannot, especially around social and economic problems.

But New Mexico is known as a “philanthropic divide” state. The term “philanthropic divide” describes the asset growth differences between the 10 states with lowest foundation assets (bottom 10) and the 10 states with the greatest assets (top 10). This is an important indicator of financial health and giving capacity, given that foundations typically rely on endowed and invested funds to fuel philanthropy. New Mexico has ranked within in the bottom 10 states for total foundation assets since 2005. New Mexico’s foundation assets per capita are just $701, compared to a national average of $2,263. And total foundation giving per capita in New Mexico is only $45.09 – the lowest in the southwestern region. Compared to Nevada ($128.05 per capita), Colorado ($137.18), Oklahoma ($152.62), and Arkansas ($235.61), it is easy to see that New Mexico nonprofits must do more with less. This means that nonprofit organizations do not have the resources they need to help our most vulnerable.

It is critical that New Mexico nonprofit organizations look outside our state and tap into large-scale national foundations and federal grant opportunities to help bring financial resources into our state. The Grants Collective is working to help build organizational capacities and collaborations in order to facilitate competitive grant applications coming out of our state.

Read more about the philanthropic divide in a series of blog articles from our partners at The Grant Plant. Additional research about the philanthropic divide can be found from the Big Sky Institute and National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy.