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Geared Up to Spend Down: Foundation Sunsetting

Resource type: Video

Gearing Up to Spend Down:  Observations on Foundation Sunsetting  

In an event held on 27 January 2011 at The Atlantic Philanthropies in New York, Joel Fleishman, Professor of Law and Public Policy at Duke University, and Tony Proscio, a long-time philanthropic analyst and author, discussed their ongoing work with two foundations that are currently spending down: The Atlantic Philanthropies and The AVI CHAI Foundation. Both foundations are planning to sunset around 2020. The presentations and discussion session addressed the motivations and reasons for spending down, how the decision to spend down impacts foundation strategy, the legal issues with spend-down foundations, staffing concerns, role of the Board, and long-term considerations for grantees after a foundation’s grant money stops.

About the Speakers

Joel Fleishman is Professor of Law and Public Policy and is Director of the Samuel and Ronnie Heyman Center for Ethics, Public Policy, and the Professions and Faculty Advisor of the Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society, both of which are in the Sanford School at Duke University.  He took part-time leave from Duke from 1993 to 2003 to serve as president of The Atlantic Philanthropic Service Company, the United States program staff of the Atlantic Philanthropies.

He is author, co-author, or editor of numerous books and articles reflecting his long-standing interest in ethics, public policy, and nonprofit organizations. His most recent book was The Foundation: A Great American Secret—How Private Wealth Is Changing the World, published in January 2007 by Public Affairs Books.  In 2009, it was released in an expanded paperback edition.

>>Read Joel Fleishman’s Report: “First Annual Report to the AVI CHAI Foundation on its Decision to Spend Down” 


Tony Proscio is a writer and a consultant to foundations and major nonprofit organizations on planning, evaluation and communications.  His clients include the United Nations Secretariat; the Ford, Robert Wood Johnson, and Rockefeller Foundations;The Atlantic Philanthropies; the Pew Charitable Trusts; the California Endowment; the Nonprofit Finance Fund; and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation.

He is co-author, with Paul S. Grogan, of the book Comeback Cities: A Blueprint for Urban Neighborhood Revival.  In the 1990s, Proscio was Associate Editor of The Miami Herald, where he was lead editorial writer on economic issues and wrote a weekly opinion column.

>>Read Tony Proscio’s Report: Winding Down the Atlantic Philanthropies: The First Eight Years: 2001-2009″