Inside Philanthropy: It’s a Coming Tsunami. Which Funders Are Confronting an Aging America?




Recent grants from the John A. Hartford Foundation are one of the few bright spots in philanthropic support for seniors, which remains small, even as the U.S. elderly population grows rapidly.

The number of Americans over 65 has ballooned to 49.2 million this year, up from 35 million in 2000. That number is expected to double to about 88 million by 2050. Not only that, but older Americans tend to be sicker and have less access to care than the elderly in other high-income countries, according to a recent study backed by the Commonwealth Fund.

Despite that, care for the elderly remains a low priority for most funders. The Hartford Foundation, the Archstone Foundation in Long Beach and the Gary and Mary West Foundation in San Diego, are among the few funders to focus exclusively on care for the elderly, said John Feather, the CEO of Grantmakers in Aging. The AARP Foundation, as you might imagine, is another outfit that focuses its giving on the elderly. Much of its work has focused on affordable housing in an effort to keep poverty rates low among older people.