Tuesday, June 2, 2009
The New York Times reports that a major environmental foundation has shut down after a decades of work, just as its founder intended. The Beldon Fund has spent approximately $120 million supporting environmental organizations in five states and on environmental educational. From its founding in 1998 its founder, John Hunting of the Steelcase office furniture fortune, intended to spend down the foundation's initial $100 million endowment to address the pressing environmental issues. Its websitestill exists, but now with a list of lessons learned from its ten years of grantmaking with the knowledge of its limited lifespan. These lessons may be one of the most valuable aspects of its legacy, in that the article reports almost 12 percent of family foundations plan to end their existence at some point in the future and another 25 percent are at least open to the possibility of doing so. Examples of prominent foundations that have or plan to spend down their endowments include the Aaron Diamond Foundation, the John M. Olin Foundation, and the Atlantic Philanthropiesthat is planning to spend down its multi-billion endowment by 2016.