Time Is of the Essence: Foundations and the Policies of Limited Life and Endowment Spend-Down

Time Is of the Essence: Foundations and the Policies of Limited Life and Endowment Spend-Down

A new report from the Aspen Institute's Program on Philanthropy and Social Innovation examines the practice of spending down foundation endowments rather than preserving them indefinitely. The report, Time Is of the Essence: Foundations and the Policies of Limited Life and Endowment Spend-Down (50 pages, PDF), offers case studies of two historic spend-down foundations, the Rosenwald Fund and the General Education Board, as well as several contemporary grantmakers that decided to sunset, including the Corella and Bertram F. Bonner Foundation and the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust. Among other things, the report recommends that donors invest more time and effort in defining their intent, do what they can to ensure that the goals of their foundation are aligned with its resources and programmatic work, and find people with expertise, passion, and shared values to lead their foundations.