Alfond Foundation Poised to Become Maine's Largest Philanthropy

When the estate of its founder is settled, the Harold Alfond Foundation will have at least $500 million in assets, making it the largest philanthropic organization in Maine, the Kennebec Journal reports.

For much of its existence, the Portland-based foundation, which was established more than fifty years ago, had little more than $20 million in assets. But since Alfond's death in November 2007, the foundation's asset base has steadily increased to more than $140 million. Once Alfond's estate is settled, the foundation is expected to award at least $25 million a year to nonprofit and charitable organizations in the state. "This is a real tipping point in Maine for philanthropy," said Janet Henry, president of the Maine Philanthropy Center. "We now have some critical mass here in philanthropy to make some things happen."

Already, the additional assets have led to changes in the foundation's grantmaking, turning what had been essentially a two-person operation to a more formal, board-run effort. According to chairman-elect Greg Powell, the foundation will spend the next two years working through the transfer of assets and fulfilling pledges Alfond made during the final months of his life. Going forward, it will continue to focus on Alfond's interests — education, athletic facilities, and medical care, — and follow his philosophy of forming partnerships with organizations.

Owen Wells, president and CEO of the Portland-based Libra Foundation, said that it can take time for a foundation to find its footing after the founder or benefactor dies, but he is looking forward to what the foundation will do next. "What people don't appreciate is the impact a foundation with a half a billion dollars in assets will mean for Maine," he said. "I'm excited about what they're talking about and excited about the prospects for Maine and excited that we will have a foundation looking to do some very innovative things."

Edward D. Murphy. "State to Benefit From Alfond's Estate." Kennebec Journal 06/08/2008.