2011 Year in Review



The Dyson Foundation maintained a practical course in 2011 as it worked to support a nonprofit sector still experiencing aftershocks from the recession of 2008. Nonetheless, even against this backdrop, the Foundation’s total grantmaking in 2011 was the second highest in its history, exceeded only by its grantmaking in 2007, the year it celebrated its 50th anniversary. The Foundation made $19,785,117 in payments on grants in 2011, representing about 13% more than the 2010 outlay of $17,585,296.

In 2011, the Foundation approved 238 new grants totaling $16,338,040 to be paid in that year or in future years. The Foundation paid on 285 grants to 210 different nonprofit organizations in 2011. Individual grant payments made in 2011 ranged from $500 to $2,000,000 with a mean payment of $64,500 and a median grant payment of $22,500. The mean and median figures rose to $68,700 and $25,000, respectively, when Management Assistance Program (MAP) mini-grants were deducted from the totals. Of the 285 grants paid out during the year, 32 grants (or 15% of the total) were awarded to new grantee organizations and 90 grants represented multi-year pledges. Overall, the Dyson Foundation received 293 unsolicited requests for funding in 2011, representing an appreciable increase of 22% over the 240 unsolicited requests received the previous year.

The Mid-Hudson Valley giving program represented the largest area of giving in 2011, receiving $10,640,117 or 54% of the Foundation’s overall funding in 2011. The Mid-Hudson Valley program (which provides funding for nonprofit organizations located in Dutchess County and the surrounding counties of Ulster, Orange, Columbia, Greene and Putnam) increased by more than 32% over 2010 funding levels. The Legacy & Family Interest program represented the next largest area of giving in 2011, receiving $8,807,200 or 45% of the Foundation’s total payments for the year. Multi-year grant commitments made previously under the Dyson Foundation’s Fiftieth Anniversary grant program accounted for $3,200,000 of the total Legacy & Family Interest program outlay for the year. The Foundation continued its Directors’ Discretionary and Support of Philanthropy funding programs at levels consistent with previous years’ allocations, each representing about 1% of total giving for the year.

In 2011, the Dyson Foundation concentrated its funding on three main types of grants, including program (or project) funding, general operating support, and building/renovation grants. The largest area of grant support was centered in program support, which accounted for $7,251,677 in overall funding for 112 grants. The Foundation made 25 grants totaling $4,943,100 in the building/renovation category, many of them responding to special needs arising from the damage caused by Hurricane Irene. Another $4,884,900 was allocated for 87 grants to provide general operating support for Mid-Hudson Valley nonprofits.

The Mid-Hudson Valley Program accounted for 168 of the 285 grants the Foundation made in 2011 with program support, general operating support and Management Assistance Program grants the most frequently paid type of funding. Program support grants made up 57% of the total Mid-Hudson Valley grant dollars allocated. General operating support grants remained similar to the previous year’s giving levels at 23% of the program’s total grant dollars. The third largest category was building/renovation grants, which have decreased significantly as a percentage of grant dollars within this funding program, now equaling only 7% of 2011 grantmaking.

Geographically, the largest portion of grant dollars paid under the Mid-Hudson Valley Program, 45%, was allocated to programs with “region-wide” impact. Region-wide projects include grants made to nonprofits whose work impacts more than one of the six counties covered under the Mid-Hudson Valley giving program, including Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Putnam, and Ulster. Programs targeting Dutchess County residents made up the second largest category, accounting for 37% of Mid-Hudson Valley grantmaking. Programs targeting Ulster County and Orange County residents each accounted for 7% of Mid-Hudson Valley grantmaking. Columbia, Greene, and Putnam counties together accounted for the final 4% of the Dyson Foundation’s Mid-Hudson Valley grantmaking in 2011.

In 2011, the Foundation’s Management Assistance Program (MAP) provided payments on 31 grants totaling $415,840 in its three sub-categories, which include the Mini-Grant Program, the Strategic Restructuring Initiative (SRI), and the Cash Flow Loan Program. Of the 31 grants, 20 were mini-grants ($10,000 or less), totaling $132,140. Grants for organizational assessment and planning increased again as a share of mini-grant dollars, accounting for 71% of the program’s total allocation in 2011 – up from 60% in 2010. This reflects the continued pressure that nonprofits are experiencing to streamline, prioritize programs, cut costs, downsize, or otherwise respond to increased demand for their services and reduced income from almost every source. There were also 8 grants totaling $237,000 made through the Foundation’s Strategic Restructuring Initiative (SRI). This represents a 46% reduction over the prior year. It is notable that 42% of SRI grants in 2011 were made specifically for implementation, representing a larger percentage of grants for this purpose than ever before. Implementation grants represented 36% of grant dollars in 2010 and 0% in 2009, reflecting the fact that restructuring projects can take several years to fully develop. The Cash Flow Loan program saw activity involving three nonprofits.

Other Foundation Activities

In April, 2011, the Dyson Foundation joined with the well-known Marist College Institute for Public Opinion (MIPO) in releasing a major statewide survey detailing New York State residents’ perceptions on the issue of Government Consolidation (visit www.NYlocalgov.org). Commissioned by the Foundation, the MIPO survey results generated considerable media coverage and community debate across the state on a widely misunderstood but very important issue in this era of cuts in government funding and services. The Dyson Foundation has been funding restructuring and consolidation initiatives of non-profit organizations for several years and this study may lead the Foundation to consider more similar grants to government agencies.

In 2011, the Dyson Foundation, United Way of Dutchess County, and the Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley jointly commissioned the Center for Government Research (CGR) to launch the Community Profiles Project—a five-year commitment by three of the region’s leading philanthropic organizations to provide the public with continuously updated comparative information regarding Dutchess, Orange, and Ulster counties. The project is designed to provide government and nonprofits with an important new tool for assessing and understanding the populations they serve. Launched in May, the comprehensive new website (www.mhvcommunityprofiles.org) provides an “apples-to-apples” understanding of regional trends and comparative information that had been difficult to obtain in the past because of variations in how each county reports certain types of information.

In August, 2011, the Foundation quickly launched two emergency grant programs designed to provide assistance to nonprofit organizations and individuals impacted by Hurricane Irene/Tropical Storm Lee. Program staff implemented an expedited application process designed to provide quick decisions and expedited assistance to Mid-Hudson Valley nonprofit organizations that incurred Hurricane Irene-related damages or losses not covered by insurance, as well as funding for nonprofits providing direct aid to Mid-Hudson Valley residents who suffered uninsured hurricane-related damages or losses.

The Foundation awarded its first grants for emergency assistance within 12 days of Hurricane Irene/Tropical Storm Lee and eventually awarded over $450,000 through this program.


The Board of Directors conducted its business throughout the year through committee meetings, occasional conference calls, and four regularly scheduled board meetings.  Several of the board meetings were held off site and included presentations from grantees, which included the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, Rural Ulster Preservation Co., the Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley and other organizations. One of the board meetings was held in Ulster County, and in addition to touring several neighborhoods in Kingston, visited grantees including The Center for Creative Education, and the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center.


At the end of 2011, the total market value of the Foundation’s investment portfolio was $233.5 million, which represented a decrease of $37.4 million over its market value at the end of 2010.  The Dyson Foundation's investment portfolio had a return of approximately -3.26% in FY2011.