A Good Ending
Resource type: News
Stanford Social Innovation Review | [ View Original Source (opens in new window) ]
By Christopher G. Oechsli & David La Piana
We usually think of large private foundations (those with assets of more than $1 billion) as permanent endowments. Names like Ford, Carnegie, Rockefeller, and Packard summon the image of a donor whose vision—and wealth—lasts well beyond his or her lifetime. But a countervailing trend is emerging. Many prospective philanthropists and established foundations are now considering or actively pursuing a limited-life strategy. They are, in other words, planning to close at some future date.
Researchers at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University have identified 45 foundations that have completed an intentional spend-down, along with 29 other foundations that plan to follow such a course. Several factors are contributing to the rising interest in a limited-life model. First, many donors today want to see their philanthropic vision carried out in their lifetime. Second, many of them want to tackle big problems that cry out for large-scale, resource-intensive solutions. And third, there is a growing disillusionment with the slow pace and the bureaucratization of many perpetual foundations.
- Closing Call, a supplement to this article