Foundations may not have a financial obligation to collaborate, but they have a social obligation.
So how are foundations going to stay relevant in this economy? By working with their competitors. If foundations share their funding portfolios, they can perform analysis of their funding versus their competitor's portfolios. Foundations must work together to spend their money in a systemic, coordinated manner that pushes forward discoveries that benefit the community, not individual agendas.
ResearchCrossroads.org contains what I believe is the largest collection of private disease research funding in the world. It's open, accessible, and free to the non-profit community. If foundations contribute their data, everyone benefits by raising the visibility of funded research.
Some foundations are going further, creating 'research portals' where foundations funding similar research are creating communities for their funded researchers. These efforts provide a mechanism for data sharing, but the foundations must be committed and willing to open their funded research to their competitors. It's a start, if this poor economy forces foundations to collaborate - our kids and grand kids will be better off.