January 27, 2010; Christian Post | Unlike private donors, foundations don’t typically give to religious bodies. The proportion of foundation grantmaking to “religion” is much lower than the proportion of individual giving for religious organizations. But some do. The Christian Post‘s list of the top 20 grantmaking foundations for Christian groups, however, mixes public charities, private foundations, and managers of donor-advised funds. In order the top ten are: the National Christian Foundation (Georgia); Christian Aid Ministries (Ohio); the Nehemiah Foundation (California); Trinity Christian Center (California); the Barnabas Foundation (Illinois); the J. Bulow Campbell Foundation (Georgia); the Rupert H. Johnson Foundation (California); the Rees-Jones Foundation (Texas); the Poplar Foundation (Tennessee); and the Wege Foundation (Michigan).

In the next 10, readers might find the American Bible Society as the most well known entity in the list. NPQ wrote about Nehemiah’s private developer funding sources and its IRS-boundary pushing activities in the NPQ Newswire earlier this month, noting some Congressional and IRS concerns about Nehemiah’s core business activity of builder-funded charitable assistance for mortgage down payments.

National Christian is a national manager of donor-advised funds, like the so-called commercially affiliated national DAF managers sponsored by financial services firms such as Fidelity, Vanguard, Schwab, and T. Rowe Price, among others. Its unusually complex structure of supporting organizations and its vigorous funding of politically active groups such as Focus on the Family got National Christian a lot of attention in front of the Senate Finance Committee earlier in this decade.

It is an example today of how nested and intertwined some of these funders are: the number 19 funder on the list, the Lynn and Foster Freiss Family Foundation (Wyoming) gave the National Christian Foundation $8.1 million in 2009, $6.2 million in 2008, and $5.8 million in 2007, and the number12 funder on the list, the Maclellan Foundation sent NCF a whopping $18.3 million in 2007.—Rick Cohen