About The Duke Endowment

About The Duke Endowment

Fulfilling a Legacy

Since 1924, The Duke Endowment has worked to help people and strengthen communities in North Carolina and South Carolina by nurturing children, promoting health, educating minds and enriching spirits.

Located in Charlotte, N.C., the Endowment seeks to fulfill the visionary genius and innovative legacy of James Buchanan Duke, one of the great industrialists and philanthropists of the 20th century. Mr. Duke established the Endowment in 1924 with $40 million. In 1925, it was expanded with an additional $67 million from his estate. Adjusted for present value, Mr. Duke's total gifts would amount to almost $1.4 billion today. It was by the stroke of his pen that James B. Duke created The Duke Endowment, and the integration of his signature as a graphic element underscores the legacy that is the foundation and guiding force of The Duke Endowment. The logo reflects the singular achievements of James B. Duke, and the accomplishments of the Endowment he established.

Governed by a board of trustees, Endowment staff conduct grantmaking according to guidelines in Mr. Duke's original Indenture of Trust (pdf), a legal document that remains relevant and timely after more than 80 years. In November 2011, Trustees approved six Guiding Principles for our work.

Our Work

The Endowment has awarded more than $4 billion in grants since its inception, including over $1.5 billion to Duke University. With assets of $3.8 billion in 2019, the Endowment is one of the nation's largest 501(c)(3) private foundations. Today, more than 80 percent of our total spending goes to grantmaking. 

In addition to grantmaking work in four program areas, the Endowment shares its knowledge by publishing resources for grantees and other service organizations, including information about what we're learning from our work in various publications, reports and evaluations. We also operate a fellowship program to cultivate emerging leaders in philanthropy.

The Duke Endowment Supports


The Duke Name

James B. Duke and his family were innovative business leaders and visionary philanthropists. While distinct and independent, many organizations bear the Duke name.

The Duke Endowment
A private foundation created in 1924 by James B. Duke as his philanthropic legacy.

Duke University 
Named after the same family, with its own endowment. Duke University has received nearly $1.5 billion in grants from The Duke Endowment.

Duke Energy 
Also founded by James B. Duke, now a widely-held public company.

Doris Duke Charitable Foundation 
Founded by the daughter of James B. Duke as a separate private foundation supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research and the prevention of child maltreatment.

Duke Farms 
The 2,700-acre estate in Hillsborough, N.J., developed by James B. Duke, bequeathed to his daughter Doris and now owned and supported by the Duke Farms Foundation, an operating foundation of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

Duke Mansion 
Built in 1915, this Charlotte, N.C., mansion was tripled in size by its most famous owner, James B. Duke. The home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is now operated as a nonprofit with all proceeds being used to preserve and protect this community treasure.

Duke Homestead
A restored historic site, this living museum features the home, factories and farm where Washington Duke first grew and processed tobacco. The site offers special programs and activities that demonstrate early tobacco farming and processing techniques. The homestead is operated by North Carolina Historic Sites, a division of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources Office of Archives and History.



Since James B. Duke’s death in 1925, the assets of The Duke Endowment have achieved significant growth, from $107 million to $3.9 billion. During the same time, over $4 billion has been distributed in grants.

Assets of The Duke Endowment are managed by DUMAC, Inc., a professionally-staffed investment organization governed by Duke University.

During 2019, the investment return on the Endowment’s portfolio was 11.5 percent. Investment performance benefited from increases in global equity and private capital. The Endowment’s portfolio increased in value from $3.6 billion to $3.8 billion from December 31, 2018, to December 31, 2019, impacted by investment returns, grants and expenses.The Endowment’s total assets were $3.9 billion at year end.

For the 10-year period ending December 31, 2019, the Endowment’s investment portfolio, net of fees, returned 9.6 percent annualized, outperforming its policy benchmark, which was up 6.6 percent, and a 70 percent MSCI All Country World Index/30 percent Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index benchmark, which was up 7.5 percent annualized over the same period.

Grants and Expenses

Over 80 percent of the Endowment’s total spending goes directly to grantmaking. This compares favorably to foundations of similar size. The chart below shows our grantmaking in the context of other spending. This grantmaking volume depends on our ability to invest assets wisely. View additional information in the 2019 Annual Financials Statement (pdf) or contact us to request further details.


Areas of Work

  • Prevention and early intervention for at-risk children

    To equip children and families with skills to ensure that children reach developmental milestones to lead successful lives.

  • Out-of-home care for youth

    To drive child welfare systems toward greater accountability for child well-being.

  • Quality and safety of health care

    Improving the quality and safety of health care delivery

  • Access to health care

    Improving health by increasing access to comprehensive care

  • Prevention

    Expanding programs to promote health and prevent disease

  • Academic excellence

    Enhancing academic excellence through program and campus development

  • Educational access and success

    Increasing educational access and supporting a learning environment that promotes achievement

  • Campus and community engagement

    Promoting a culture of service, collaboration and engagement among schools and communities

  • Rural church development

    Building the infrastructure and capacity of United Methodist churches to enhance ministry and mission

  • Clergy leadership

    Strengthening United Methodist churches by improving the quality and effectiveness of church leadership

  • Congregational outreach

    Engaging United Methodist congregations in programs that serve their communities

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