2010 Year in Review



The Dyson Foundation’s grantmaking in 2010 remained focused upon supporting core needs as the nonprofit community wrestled with the continuing negative impacts brought on by the global recession. Toward this end, the Foundation maintained the revised giving guidelines it had established in 2009, restricting most new donations to programs involving core health care, human services, safety-net, workforce development, and after-school programs for low-income children and youth. Overall, the Foundation’s giving increased in 2010, which was reflected in expanded donations to the Basic Needs portion of its portfolio.

The Foundation’s investments rebounded somewhat from the drastic reductions of the previous year, allowing for measured increases in donations in 2010. As a result, the Dyson Foundation made $17,585,296 in payments on grants in 2010, representing about 15% more than the 2009 outlay of $15,150,675. In 2010, the Foundation approved 212 new grants totaling $23,849,091 to be paid in that year or in future years. This number marks a dramatic increase over the prior year’s new grant commitment total of $5,302,975, mostly due to a large grant of $11,261,895 approved in December of 2010 to cover the cost of the Walkway Over the Hudson’s construction loan repayment.

The Foundation made payments on 265 grants to 208 different nonprofit organizations in 2010. Individual grant payments made in 2010 ranged from $900 to $1,500,000 with a mean payment of $64,700 and a median grant payment of $25,000. The mean and median figures rose to $70,500 and $25,500, respectively, when Management Assistance Program (MAP) mini-grants were deducted from the totals. Of the 265 grants paid out during the year, 30 grants (or 14% of the total) were awarded to new grantee organizations and 74 grants represented multi-year pledges. Overall, the Dyson Foundation received 240 unsolicited requests for funding in 2010, representing a sharp reduction from the 365 unsolicited requests received the previous year.

The Legacy & Family Interest program, which funds grants awarded at the discretion of the Dyson family, represented the largest area of giving in 2010, receiving $9,257,200 or 53% of the Foundation’s overall funding in 2010. Multi-year grant commitments made previously under the Fiftieth Anniversary grant program accounted for $4,600,000 of the total Legacy & Family Interest program outlay for the year.

The Mid-Hudson Valley Grants program represented the next largest area of giving in 2010, receiving $8,025,651 or 46% of the Foundation’s total payments for the year.  

That amount was down from 2009 in which the Mid-Hudson Valley program (which targets nonprofit organizations located in Dutchess County and the surrounding counties of Ulster, Orange, Columbia, Greene and Putnam) represented 56% of all Foundation giving. 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 2010, the Foundation maintained its commitment to basic needs funding and general operating support for established nonprofit organizations providing core services to Mid-Hudson Valley communities. Of the $8,025,621 in Mid-Hudson Valley grant dollars paid in 2010, basic needs programming accounted for $4,045,322, or over 50% of total grant dollars.  This represents a 30% increase over basic needs funding in 2009. Aside from the $5,922,000 in Building/Renovation grants, mostly representing capital grant commitments from prior years, the Foundation’s largest categories of overall giving in 2010 were in program support (23%) and general operating support (21%).

The Mid-Hudson Valley Program accounted for 149 of the 265 grants the Foundation made in 2010 with program support, management assistance, and general operating support the most frequently paid type of grant. In terms of dollar amount, program support grants made up 40% of the total Mid-Hudson Valley grant dollars.  Over the past several years, the Dyson Foundation’s general operating support grants have increased significantly as a portion of overall grantmaking.  In 2010 these grants accounted for 22% of total grant dollars in the Mid-Hudson Valley, up from a low of 9% in 2007. 

The third largest category in 2010 was building / renovation grants, which represented 16% of the program’s grant dollars.

In 2010 the Foundation subdivided its Management Assistance Program (MAP) into three distinct sub-categories—Mini-Grants, Strategic Restructuring Initiative, and Cash Flow Loans—in order to better track and assess them. Overall, the Foundation awarded 39 MAP grants totaling $645,800. Of these, 25 were Mini-Grants of $10,000 or less and totaling $167,200. The sub-category saw a marked increase in the number of grants to cover organizational assessment and planning, jumping from 32% of the total in 2009 to 60% of the total in 2010. This reflects the 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. Strategic Restructuring Initiative (SRI) grants increased 58% in 2010 over the previous year, capping the third consecutive year of dramatic growth in this program. In all, the Foundation awarded 12 SRI grants totaling $436,800 in 2010, with 36% of those dedicated to actually implementing an approved consolidation or restructuring plan. The Cash Flow Loan program saw activity involving three nonprofits, including PEOPLe, Inc., Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum, and Walkway Over the Hudson.

Other Foundation Activities

In 2010, the Foundation purchased the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum property along North Water Street in the City of Poughkeepsie for $1.4 million. After purchasing the property—which includes the main two-story building, a parking lot and a waterfront pavilion—the Foundation entered into a long-term lease with the Children’s Museum that will enable the organization to maintain its base of operations at the waterfront location for many years. This unique step was taken in order to both assist the Children’s Museum with its long term goals and as an investment in a strategically important piece of property along the city’s waterfront. Since 2008, the Foundation has provided significant funding and professional support for the development of the Walkway Over the Hudson, a dynamic new state park that already has attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors to Dutchess and Ulster counties. A new 21-story, high-speed elevator linking the city’s waterfront to the Walkway will be completed in the next year or two on land located just to the north of the Children’s Museum property.


The Board of Directors conducted its business throughout the year through committee meetings, occasional conference calls, and four regularly scheduled board meetings.  The September 2010 board meeting included a board presentation and discussion on “Critical Services and the Economy: How Are Frontline Mid-Hudson Valley Providers Responding?” which included participation from several of the Foundation’s grantees including Dutchess Outreach, Hudson River Healthcare and Rural Ulster Preservation Co. .  The board also conducted a site visit to the Poughkeepsie Farm Project cooperative farm.


At the end of 2010, the total market value of the Foundation’s investment portfolio was $272.4 million, which represented an increase of $12.9 million over its market value at the end of 2009.  The Dyson Foundation's investment portfolio returned approximately 10.7%, net of management fees, in FY2010.


There were several staff changes of note during 2010. After almost 10 years of service to the Foundation, Janet Van Why retired as Controller. In the 4th quarter of 2010 the Dyson Foundation underwent the following staffing changes, Vivian Walsh was promoted from Accounting & Business Manager to Director of Finance and Accounting. Cindy Scott was promoted from Staff Assistant to General Accountant. And, Melissa Utsett was hired as Administrative Assistant.