Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is a US-based private foundation established in 1936 by Edsel Ford, son of Henry, the founder of the Ford Motor Company. His bequest turned the foundation into the then-largest philanthropy in the world. Guided by a vision of social justice across the world, the foundation works to reduce poverty and injustice, strengthen democratic values, promote international co-operation, and advance human achievement.

The Ford Foundation provided USD 284.8 million for development in 2021 through its grantmaking activities. Compared to 2020, this amount represents an increase of 14.6% in real terms.

In 2021, the Ford Foundation provided USD 22 million as its COVID-19 response, representing 7.7% of its development finance. A total of USD 5.3 million was provided for COVID-19 control and other health-related activities.

In 2021, the Ford Foundation provided USD 1.7 million to the multilateral system, representing 0.6% of its development finance, all of which was earmarked for specific countries, regions, themes or purposes.

The Ford Foundation channelled most of its multilateral aid through the United Nations entities and other multilateral organisations, such as OECD and OAS.

The United Nations (UN) system received USD 0.5 million from the Ford Foundation in 2021, notably ECLAC (USD 0.3 million) and OHCHR (USD 0.2 million).

See the section on geographic and thematic focus for the geographical and thematic breakdown of bilateral allocations earmarked through the multilateral development system.

In 2021, the Ford Foundation channelled its contributions mostly through non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society (USD 222.4 million), universities, research institutes or think tanks (USD 31.1 million) and Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) and private sector (USD 29.5 million).

In 2021, civil society organisations (CSOs) received USD 222.4 million of the Ford Foundation’s development finance (78.1%). A share of 54.1% of the foundation’s development finance was allocated to CSOs as core support, while 24% was earmarked to specific projects. More than half of this financing was CSOs based in developing countries.

In 2021, the Ford Foundation’s development finance was spread across most developing regions. USD 78.1 million was allocated to America, USD 70.4 million to Africa and USD 52.7 to Asia, accounting respectively for 27.4%, 24.7% and 18.5% of the Foundation’s development finance. A sum of USD 83 million (29.2%) was unspecified by region in 2021, mainly including multi-regional programmes and core support grants.

In 2021, 42.4% of development finance went to the top 10 recipients. The Ford Foundation’s most significant recipients included Brazil (USD 18.8 million), Indonesia (USD 16.2 million) and Colombia (USD 13.1 million). Moreover, 44.7% of development finance was not allocated by country.

Least developed countries (LDCs) received USD 10.7 million (3.8%) of Ford Foundation’s gross disbursements in 2021. The Ford Foundation allocated the highest share of its development finance (30.3%) to upper middle-income countries in 2021, followed by lower middle-income countries (21.2%) in 2021, noting that USD 127.2 million (44.7%) was unallocated by income group.

Furthermore, the Ford Foundation allocated USD 1.3 million to small island developing states (SIDS) in 2021, equal to 0.5% of its development finance. The main SIDS recipients include Cuba, Fiji and Haiti.

Support to fragile contexts reached USD 39.1 million in 2021, representing 13.7% of Ford Foundation’s development finance. Of this, extremely fragile contexts received USD 1.3 million.

Learn more about support to fragile contexts on the States of Fragility platform.

In 2021, more than half of the Ford Foundation’s commitments were allocated to social infrastructure and services. Investments in this area accounted for 92.1% of commitments (USD 419.7 million), with a strong focus on support to government and civil society (USD 397.7 million). Commitments to economic infrastructure and services totalled USD 15 million (3.3%), mostly targeting financial and business services.

In 2021, the Ford Foundation committed the largest shares of its contributions to the goals of reduced inequalities (SDG 10) and peace, justice and strong institutions (SDG 16). Support to gender equality (SDG 5) amounted to USD 140.8 million, and contributions to climate action (SDG 13) totalled USD 53.7 million.

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The methodological notes provide further details on the definitions and statistical methodologies applied, including core and earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations, the Sustainable Development Goal focus of private development finance, channels of delivery, unspecified/unallocated allocations, the gender equality policy marker, and the environment markers.

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