The Robert Bowne Foundation Spends Down

Friday, January 15, 2016
The Robert Bowne Foundation Spends Down
One of the many consequences of the Great Recession was its effect on foundations whose endowments were heavily invested in a deteriorating stock market. For the Robert Bowne Foundation, the loss of over one-third of its funds forced it to consider spending down its remaining assets. 
“The foundation's money had been invested pretty aggressively because they weren’t imagining a spend down,” said Lena O. Townsend, the foundation’s executive director. “The most we ever had was back in around 2000, and it was about $22 million. So when we lost so much money, we had a couple of choices. We could have not made any grants for a couple of years, because we always made more than the required 5 percent in grants, or we could just decide to spend down, because the organizations needed the money.” 
Following discussions with board members – one of whom were relatives of the foundation’s founders – in the aftermath of the Great Recession, the foundation chose to spend down its remaining assets. Dec. 31, 2015, was selected as the last day of operations. Fortunately for some of their most cherished grantees, the move also led to more aggressive giving in targeted areas and ultimately helped the foundation realize some of its longest-held goals. . .
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