Vision and Purpose for Long-Life Foundations

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Why should your foundation continue to exist year after year?

This is not a rhetorical question, but rather one that every foundation that exists in perpetuity -- the vast majority of foundations -- needs to be able to answer persuasively and articulately. In recent years, the number of foundations going the spend-down route has increased significantly.

Proponents of setting time limits on foundations have been prolific in their writing and public speaking and have argued compellingly that spending down made sense for their donor and their mission. While we all respect and appreciate that choice, most of us also believe that it should be a choice to create a foundation designed to live in perpetuity or spend down (or decide to do so later).

However, many in government and advocacy circles are calling for foundations to expend more of their assets to the pressing needs of the day. Foundation leaders who disagree need to be able to clearly articulate a vision and purpose for long-life foundations and forestall tax and regulatory changes that could compromise their ability to affect social change over the long-haul.

The Tuesday, March 18 program "What Is the Case for Foundations Living in Perpetuity?" is an opportunity for long-life and spend-down foundations alike to clarify their thinking and address this core issue in philanthropy today.

All three of the leaders on this panel who represent foundations in perpetuity have had extensive discussions on whether or not to spend down and have come to the conclusion that perpetuity is the right choice for their institution. Tony Proscio, who has been a prolific chronicler of the philanthropic experience for decades and is documenting the spend-down strategies of The Atlantic Philanthropies and the Avi Chi Foundation, will apply the arguments for spending down to the long-term goals expressed by our leaders from the Altman, Hazen and Rockefeller Foundations.

Please join us for what will be an interesting and provocative discussion.

Best Regards,