Spending Up, Spending Down, Spending Out: Alternatives To Perpetuity


Philanthropy411, is currently covering the Council on Foundations conference with the help of a blog team.  This is a guest post by Lee Draper, President of the Draper Consulting Group.

by Lee Draper

Every foundation should periodically call its permanency into question because it stimulates us to say why we are doing what we are doing and whether it is enough.

Thinking that you might have only a finite time to pursue philanthropy promotes focus.  What do you really want to accomplish?

Furthermore, it encourages a foundation to build nonprofit capacity (for the day when it won’t be around anymore).  And the most important capacity building that sunseting foundations can do is developing nonprofit fundraising infrastructure (echoes of Dan Pallotta’s fabulous plenary remarks at the Council on Foundations conference).  We can seek to leverage every investment so that nonprofits are building relationships with other donors that can replace the foundation’s support after it is gone.  Again, why can’t we all integrate this thinking regardless of whether our foundations are in perpetuity or of finite life?

After hearing conference panelists discuss foundation perpetuity, each of whom is a terrific grantmaker committed to some of the toughest and most important issues of our time, I couldn’t help lamenting: why are they going out of business and who will really replace their powerful work?

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Posted by Kris Putnam-Walkerly © Kris Putnam-Walkerly and Philanthropy411, 2010.

Kris is a sought after philanthropy advisor, expert and award-winning author. She has helped over 90 foundations and philanthropists strategically allocate and assess over half a billion dollars in grants and gifts.

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