“I believe that people of substantial wealth potentially create problems for future generations unless they themselves accept responsibility to use their wealth during their lifetime to help worthwhile causes.”
– Chuck Feeney
Once Atlantic decided it would complete all its grantmaking by the end of 2016, the foundation was free of the responsibility of ensuring its endowment would last in perpetuity. That has enabled Atlantic to make “big bets”—investments designed to address present-day problems or to try to prevent them from becoming more challenging or intractable in the future.
As one foundation trustee said about Atlantic’s focus on big grants and big issues: “You’re much more likely to make a difference by doing something big right now than dribbling the money out to the end of time.”
Atlantic isn’t the first philanthropy to have committed its entire endowment for a fixed period. But the nearly $8 billion that will have been awarded between 1982 and 2016 is many times the amount granted by any previous limited life foundation.