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The Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society provides resources for individuals working in the philanthropic sector; researchers, teachers, students, and others who are interested in learning about the field of philanthropy studies and the role of strategy formation in increasing philanthropic impact.


Beginning in 2008, the Revson Foundation has waged an escalating campaign to help New York City's three library systems rescue their neighborhood branches from years of budget cuts, crumbling infrastructure, and indifference from City Hall. With total outlays of just over $5 million, and using only the traditional tools of standard philanthropy (coalition-building, research, public advocacy, and a prize competition), the Revson Foundation helped the library systems present a powerful case to the city's government and civic establishment: that branch libraries are indispensable portals of opportunity for rank-and-file New York families -- a resource strained to the limits, dangerously close to collapse in some places, but far too precious to lose. Thanks to this campaign, in 2015, the steady drip of budget cuts ceased, and the libraries received the biggest funding increase in their history.

Revson and Libraries - Publication


Some people believe that philanthropy produces more value when it operates under a deadline. But testing that proposition is a lot harder than it sounds. A May 2016 convening of foundation leaders at Atlantic Philanthropies explored this question in depth. The attached paper outlines their discussion and introduces mathematical formulas that model spend-down scenarios.

ValueTime_Report - Published Final


We recognize that perhaps our greatest accomplishment—with the exception of the kids we raise—will not come from businesses we've started, but from the help we provide to people and causes around the world. We believe, with the others who have signed this Pledge that we are truly on the cusp of life-changing achievements that will improve our collective quality of life, and have an everlasting impact on generations to come.
-Excerpt from Liz and Eric Lefkofsky’s Giving Pledge, source:

The persuasive role of large donors in politics is under frequent media spotlight in this distinctive Presidential election year. In the July 2016 issue of Political Science and Politics, the philanthropic capacity and interests of billionaire donors is featured in a Political Symposium led by Duke University’s Professor Kristin Goss. Goss’s study examines the giving trends of nearly 200 individuals or families sourced from the Giving Pledge, Foundation Center, and the Chronicle of Philanthropy and calculates that the total giving capacity of this collective is, at a minimum, over $1.2 trillion. This massive sum is roughly equivalent to one-third of U.S. government spending in 2014, or the 16th largest national economy in the world.

Over half of these donors influence policy by giving direct to charities, advocacy-group formation, or issue-specific electoral spending. To what causes were these major donors contributing? The most popular charitable recipients were overwhelmingly education-oriented causes, followed by government operations, civil rights issues, family issues, energy and the environment, and international affairs.

Professor Goss’s work identifies limitations with researching charitable giving: namely, that that financial information is not always easily traceable for high net worth individuals. Goss closes with a reminder of a rising tide of powerful new tools and institutions in philanthropy, an opportunity relevant for researchers and non-profit professionals alike.

Kristin A. Goss is the feature editor of this Political Symposium and is joined by six other academic contributors. Her article is titled 'Policy Plutocrats: How America’s Wealthy Seek to Influence Governance'Ms. Goss is an associate professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University. Her research interests include firearms and crime, gun control, nonprofit organizations, philanthropy, and US politics.


An analysis by Tony Proscio examines the five elements that together constitute a "human capital" program in philanthropy -- as distinct from other kinds of grantmaking that support outstanding people. The analysis is based on The Atlantic Philanthropies' program in Population Health in Viet Nam from 1998 through 2013.

Human Capital FINAL


Applications of Behavioral Economics in Philanthropy: Understanding Loss Aversion and Risk Tolerance in Grantmaking

John R. Ettinger and John T. Ettinger


Never leave a birdie putt short.” ‐ ‐ Traditional Golf Exhortation

It is demonstrable statistically that professional golfers are more accurate when they putt attempting to avoid bogey (a loss to par) than when they putt trying to make birdie (a gain to par), notwithstanding that the same amount (one stroke) is at stake. Also, in blatant disregard for the famous golf aphorism above, it can be shown that these highly experienced golfers putt the ball less hard in the case of birdie opportunities than they do when trying to avoid bogey. The fact that these surprisingly systematic patterns were found through a careful study of 2.5 million putts on the PGA Tour is certainly testament to academic thoroughness. More importantly, though, the imaginative researchers present this as evidence of: (a) in the case of the greater accuracy, the valuing of avoiding losses more than commensurate gains (loss aversion) and (b) in the case of the variations in the forcefulness by which putts are struck, the tendency to be “risk averse” in the domain of gains and “risk taking” in the domain of losses. 1   Given the countless hours golfers of this caliber spend seeking a metronome‐like consistency to their stroke, these asymmetries in putting results go at least a little way to addressing the concern that “the greatest challenge facing behavioral economics is demonstrating its applicability in the real world.” 2

This paper considers how individuals incorporate in philanthropy unavoidable considerations of loss and risk in decisions which are made under conditions of uncertainty, albeit tested by means of a “laboratory” experiment employing hypotheticals based on grant‐making choices. Are natural and fundamental behavioral patterns exhibited in personal decision‐making carried over into decisions made in the philanthropic context, or do new behaviors emerge when one moves from personal choices to philanthropic ones?

* The authors wish to acknowledge the support of ideas in their work in connection with this project.

1 Devin G. Pope and Maurice E. Schwertzer, “Is Tiger Woods Loss Averse? Persistent Bias in the Face of Experience,

Competition and High Stakes,” American Economic Review 101 (February 2011)

2 Steven D. Levitt and John A. List, “Homo Economicus Evolves,” Science 319 (2008)

Survey Results (Behavioral Economics) V2 7 7 15 (final)



Playful and practical, When You Wonder, You're Learning introduces a new generation of families to the lessons of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. By exploring the science behind the iconic television program, the book reveals what Fred Rogers called the “tools for learning”: skills and mindsets that scientists now consider essential. These tools—curiosity, creativity, collaboration, and more—have been shown to boost everything from academic learning to children’s well-being, and they benefit kids of every background and age. They cost next to nothing to develop, and they hinge on the very things that make life worthwhile: self-acceptance; close, loving relationships; and a deep regard for one’s neighbor.

When You Wonder, You're Learning shows parents and educators the many ways they might follow in Rogers’ footsteps, sharing his “tools for learning” with digital-age kids. With insights from thinkers, scientists, and teachers—many of whom worked with Rogers himself—the book is an essential exploration into how kids and their parents can excel at what Rogers taught best: being human.

Behr, Gregg, 2021. When You Wonder, You're Learning: Mister Rogers' Enduring Lessons for Raising Creative, Curious, Caring KidsDurham, NC: Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University.


In Making Money Moral: How a New Wave of Visionaries Is Linking Purpose and Profit, authors Judith Rodin and Saadia Madsbjerg explore a burgeoning movement of bold and ambitious innovators. These trailblazers are unlocking private-sector investments in new ways to solve global problems, from environmental challenges to social issues such as poverty and inequality. They are earning great returns and reimagining capitalism in the process.

Pioneers in the field of sustainable and impact investing, Rodin and Madsbjerg offer first-hand stories of how investors of every type and in every asset class are investing in world-changing solutions—with great success. Meet the visionaries who are leading this movement: The investment managers putting trillions of dollars to work, like TPG, Wellington Management, State Street Global Advisors, Nuveen, Amundi, APG and Natixis; The asset owners driving the transition, like GPIF and Pension Danmark; A new generation of entrepreneurs benefiting from the investments, like DreamBox Learning, an innovative educational technology platform, and Goodlife Pharmacies, which is disrupting the traditional notion of a pharmacy; The corporations that are repurposing their business models to meet demand for sustainable products and services, like Ørsted; and the nonprofits that are reimagining how to raise money for their work while creating significant value for investors, like The Nature Conservancy.
In their book, Rodin and Madsbjerg offer a deep look at the most powerful tools available today—and how they can be unlocked. They reveal who the investors are and what they want; How innovative products and investment strategies can deliver long-term value for investors while improving lives and protecting ecosystems; How leaders can build strategies and prepare their organizations to enter and expand this dynamic market; and How to measure impact, understand critical regulations, and avoid potential pitfalls.  A roadmap to making the financial market a force for good, Making Money Moral is a must-read for those seeking private-sector capital to address a big problem, as well as those seeking both to mitigate risk and to invest in big solutions.

Rodin, Judith, 2021. Making Money Moral: How A New Wave of Visionaries Is Linking Purpose and Profit. Durham, NC: Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University.


The Heart of Business is a timely guide for leaders ready to abandon old paradigms and lead with purpose and humanity. It shows how we can reinvent capitalism so that it contributes to a sustainable future. How to unleash "human magic" and achieve improbable results.

Hubert Joly, former CEO of Best Buy and orchestrator of the retailer's spectacular turnaround, unveils his personal playbook for achieving extraordinary outcomes by putting people and purpose at the heart of business.

In The Heart of Business, Joly shares the philosophy behind the resurgence of Best Buy: pursue a noble purpose, put people at the center of the business, create an environment where every employee can blossom, and treat profit as an outcome, not the goal.

This approach is easy to understand, but putting it into practice is not so easy. It requires radically rethinking how we view work, how we define companies, how we motivate, and how we lead. In this book Joly shares memorable stories, lessons, and practical advice, all drawn from his own personal transformation from a hard-charging McKinsey consultant to a leader who believes in human magic.

Joly, Hubert, 2021. The Heart of Business: Leadership Principles for the Next Era of Capitalism. Durham, NC: Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University.


Bill Cummings never aspired to be a billionaire and never acknowledged he was one until long after it happened. That’s because it is not money that motivates him, but rather the immense enjoyment he gets from building and growing successful businesses.

This fascinating autobiography, Starting Small and Making It Big, shares not only how he got there, but also his singular dedication to giving back to the communities and institutions so vital to his success. In Massachusetts alone, the cash donations from Cummings entities to local charities already total more than $200 million. Through Bill’s unique voice, readers experience his achievements and adventures, as well as his setbacks and personal tragedies. For anyone studying business, building a business, or running a business, Bill’s journey also offers keen insights, cautionary observations, and the pioneering thinking that produced great prosperity and a multibillion-dollar enterprise. For everyone else, it offers a new and engrossing twist on the classic American success story.

Cummings, Bill, 2018. Starting Small and Making It Big: An Entrepreneur's Journey to Billion-Dollar Philanthropist. Durham, NC: Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University.


By 2025, Americans will likely be donating over half a trillion dollars annually to nonprofit organizations. Those philanthropic gifts will transform significant parts of America's civic sector landscape.

Philanthropy is entering an era of unprecedented growth and innovation. Established foundations such as Ford and Rockefeller are doubling down on programs tackling long-simmering problems, including global inequality, less-than-stellar education, and uneven access to health care. Many foundations are engaging in advocacy on controversial issues, exploring venture philanthropy solutions, and experimenting with impact investing. And philanthropists such as Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, New York's high-profile financiers, and Silicon Valley's billionaires are planning to put their wealth to work as never before: Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan recently pledged to donate 99 percent of their Facebook shares during their lifetimes, and nearly 150 others have signed the Giving Pledge to increase dramatically their "giving while living."

In Putting Wealth to Work, Joel L. Fleishman provides expert analysis of contemporary philanthropy, offering invaluable insight for those engaging with and affected by charitable foundations. This is the fascinating and definitive account of philanthropy today, and an indispensable guide to understanding its inner workings, impact, and expansive potential.

Fleishman, Joel L. 2017. Putting Wealth to Work: Philanthropy for Today or Investing for Tomorrow. Durham, NC: Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University.


In Changing thChanging the Game photoe Game, Paul S. Grogan, President and CEO of The Boston Foundation, traces the development of The Boston Foundation’s civic leadership model and the Foundation’s evolution into a powerfully engaged, influential player in Boston and across Massachusetts, and suggests approaches that other foundations can adapt to use to achieve comparable results. Grogan describes the changes The Boston Foundation has undergone during the twelve years of his leadership.

He elucidates the Foundation’s new approach to effecting community change, including expanded staff capacity, a greater reliance on data and research, a proactive relationship with local media, greater and more consistent public sector engagement, and fundraising efforts broadened to include operational support for the Foundation’s work. He examines in detail the Foundation’s research-driven efforts to improve housing and education policy in Greater Boston.


Grogan, Paul S., 2013. Changing the Game: Civic Leadership at The Boston Foundation, 2001-2012. Durham, NC: Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University.


Thomas J. Tierney; Joel L. Fleishman
March 2011

Purchase Book

Giving money away is easy. If you can sign your name at the bottom of a check, or approve the slate of grants at a family foundation board meeting, or accept proposals from aspiring grantees, you can give money away. Giving it away smartly, so that it not only gets results but also gets more and better results over time, is hard.

Despite tremendous innovation in the social sector, philanthropy's natural state is underperformance. In order for donors and foundations to unlock fully the potential of their philanthropy, generosity must be accompanied by a rigorous consideration of what they hope to accomplish: the results that will define success, what it will take to achieve them, and how those results will get better over time.

In Give Smart: Philanthropy that Gets Results, Bridgespan Group cofounder and chairman Thomas J. Tierney and CSPCS faculty chair Joel L. Fleishman pool their knowledge and expertise to creat a much-needed primer for philanthropists and the nonprofit organizations they support. Drawing from personal experiences, research spanning twentieth- and twenty-first-century philanthropy, contemporary interviews, and Bridgespan's extensive fieldwork, Give Smart encourages donors and grant makers to pursue a process of inquiry around six questions:

  • What are my values and beliefs?
  • What is "success" and how can it be achieved?
  • What am I accountable for?
  • What will it take to get the job done?
  • How do I work with grantees?
  • Am I getting better?

Taken together, these questions create an approach for donors and nonprofit leaders who want to effect real change.


Give Smart is available in bookstores as well as online in both print and electronic versions. You may purchase a copy at AmazonBarnes & Noble, or IndieBound. If you would like to purchase 25 copies or more at discounted pricing for use at an organization or event, please send your request to


To learn more about Give Smart the book and the Give Smart Initiative, visit


Lucy Bernholz; Edward Skloot; Barry Varela

June 2010

Disrupting PhilanthrDisrupting Philanthropy Photoopy, written by philanthropy consultant Lucy Bernholz with CSPCS Director Edward Skloot and staff member Barry Varela, examines the immediate and longer-term implications of networked digital technologies for philanthropy. Case studies of FasterCures and the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation show how information networks have transformed the grant-making strategies of institutional funders.


Disrupting Philanthropy also looks at how information networks have affected five common philanthropic practices: setting goals and formulating strategy, building social capital, measuring progress, measuring outcomes and impact, and accounting for the work. It then offers a glimpse of what is to come: an increase in new blendings of market-based and nonmarket solutions; of networked, often temporary alliances; and of more better and data, more readily available and at lower cost. Disrupting Philanthropy concludes by predicting that the next decade will see explosive growth in networking for good, creating opportunities for innovative solutions to large social problems.


Bernholz, Lucy, with Edward Skloot and Barry Varela, 2010. Disrupting Philanthropy: Technology and the Future of the Social Sector. Durham, NC: Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University.


You may also purchase bound copies of Disrupting Philanthropy from


Paul Bloom & Edward Skloot


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Scaling Social Impact PhotoThis volume grew out of a conference titled "Scaling Social Impact: What We Know and What We Need to Know" hosted by CSPCS, the Fuqua School's Center for the Advancement for Social Entrepreneurship, and the Bridgespan Group. With a Foreword by Bridgespan's Jeffrey L. Bradach and an Introduction by the editors, Scaling Social Impact presents twelve essays by a variety of scholars and practitioners. The central issue that animates all the essays is the meaning, opportunity, and cost of "scaling up" enterprises that apparently are running successfully. How do we do this? When is the right time? What principles of success can be distilled and shared? There are no clear answers yet, but what we do know is that if system change is to be achieved, then successful but isolated, largely unknown, and smallish ventures—and the ideas that underpin them—will need to grow in resources, operating capacity, and demonstrable impact in order to thrive.

Bloom, Paul N., and Edward Skloot, 2010. Scaling Social Impact: New Thinking. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

"This collection is an ambitious and comprehensive account of an issue of critical importance to social entrepreneurs and their stakeholders. The editors have assembled an impressive group of scholars and thoughtful practitioners to offer cutting-edge insights into various aspects of scaling and growth with a strong focus on impact and performance. This book represents a valuable addition to the growing canon of serious social entrepreneurship research."    —Alex Nicholls, MBA, Lecturer in Social Entrepreneurship, University of Oxford, Fellow of Harris Manchester College, author of Social Entrepreneurship: New Models of Sustainable Social Change and editor of The Journal of Social Entrepreneurship

"Scaling Social Impact could not be released at a more opportune moment. When resources to support social change seem more limited than ever, two of our field’s most significant thought leaders collaborate to bring us some of the best, most current and engaging perspectives on a topic that to this point one might argue has been more fad than strategy. By presenting us with writings from a host of researchers and experienced field builders, Bloom and Skloot offer us not only vision but informed, research-based insights into the concept and complications of what it means to attain the highest potential of effective social programs."  —Jed Emerson, founder, Blended Value Group


Joel L. Fleishman; J. Scott Kohler; Steven Schindler

January 2007

Casebook for The Foundation: A Great American Secret consists of 100 brief case studies of extraordinary foundation impact. The cases were written as part of the research for Professor Fleishman's book The Foundation: A Great American Secret—How Private Wealth Is Changing the World and serve to illustrate many of the strategies and tactics foundations use to try to achieve their objectives. The authors of the cases are J. Scott Kohler and Steven Schindler.

Casebook for The Foundation is available for purchase from Amazon and other retailers.

The cases are provided here in read-only PDF format.

  1. Rockefeller University (Formerly the Rockefeller Institute of Medical Research), 1901
  2. General Education Board Support for Public High Schools: Rockefeller Foundation, 1902
  3. The Transformation of American Medical Education: The Flexner Report: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 1906
  4. Curing and Preventing Disease and Promoting Public Health: Rockefeller Foundation, 1909
  5. Carnegie Public Libraries for America’s Communities: Andrew Carnegie and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, 1911
  6. Learning to Understand the Problems Faced by Cleveland: America’s First Community Foundation: The Cleveland Foundation, 1915
  7. The Development of Insulin to Treat Diabetes: Carnegie Corporation of New York, 1917
  8. Providing Scientific Knowledge to Solve Public Problems: National Research Council: Carnegie Corporation of New York, 1917
  9. Pensions for America’s Educators: TIAA-CREF, One of the Wealthiest Pension Funds in the World: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 1918
  10. Building Schools for African Americans: Julius Rosenwald Fund, 1920
  11. Economic Policy Research of the Highest Quality: National Bureau of Economic Research: Carnegie Corporation, 1921
  12. Reforming the Legal Profession through Education and Practice: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 1921
  13. The Rural Hospitals Program of the Commonwealth Fund, 1927
  14. Mount Palmomar “Hale” Telescope: Rockefeller Foundation, 1928
  15. The Development of Molecular Biology and the Discovery of the Structure of DNA: Rockefeller Foundation, 1933
  16. Predecessor to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina: The Duke Endowment, 1935
  17. Transforming America's Perceptions of Relations Among its Races: Gunnar Myrdal's An American Dilemma: Carnegie Corporation of New York, 1936
  18. Support for the Development of the Pap Smear Test: The Commonwealth Fund, 1941
  19. Support of the National Institutes of Health: Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation, 1942
  20. The Green Revolution: Rockefeller Foundation, 1943
  21. The Rochester Regional Hospital Council: Commonwealth Fund, 1946
  22. Institution Building for Evidence-Based Public Policy: Ford Foundation, 1948
  23. Preventing Crashes on America’s Highways: Dorr Foundation, 1952
  24. Curbing Global Population Growth: Rockefeller’s Population Council: Rockefeller Foundation, 1952
  25. Facilitating Global Knowledge Creation: University Area Studies Programs: Ford Foundation, 1952
  26. Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 1953
  27. Program to Strengthen Business Education: Ford Foundation, 1954
  28. Financing Higher Education for America's Talented Students: National Merit Scholarship Corporation: Ford Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, 1955
  29. Vera Institute of Justice: Manhattan Bail Project: Ford Foundation, 1962
  30. Measuring American Education Reform: National Assessment of Educational Progress: Carnegie Corporation of New York, 1964
  31. The Development of the Nurse Practitioner and Physician Assistant Professions: The Commonwealth Fund, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, 1965
  32. America's System of Public Broadcasting and Public Radio: Carnegie Corporation of New York, 1965
  33. Bedford-Stuyvesant and the Rise of the Community Development Corporation: Ford Foundation, 1966
  34. Children's Television Workshop and Sesame Street: Ford Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, 1966
  35. Federal College Scholarships for America's Needy Students: Carnegie Corporation of New York, 1967
  36. Social Movements and Civil Rights Litigation: Ford Foundation, 1967
  37. The Police Foundation: Ford Foundation, 1969
  38. The Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program: 1969
  39. Environmental Public Interest Law Centers: Ford Foundation, 1970
  40. The National Prison Project of the American Civil Liberties Union: Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, 1972
  41. Programs to Enhance the Rights and Opportunities of Women: Ford Foundation, 1972
  42. The Emergency Medical Services Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 1973
  43. Hospice Care Movement: Commonwealth Fund, 1974
  44. The Tropical Disease Program: Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, 1974
  45. Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation: Ford Foundation, 1974
  46. Conservative Legal Advocacy: John M. Olin Foundation, 1975
  47. Grameen Bank: Ford Foundation, 1976
  48. Monterey Bay Aquarium and Research Institute: David and Lucile Packard Foundation, 1977
  49. Human Rights and the International Criminal Court: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Open Society Institute, Ford Foundation, 1978
  50. The Nurse-Family Partnership: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 1978
  51. Revolutionizing Legal Discourse: Law and Economics: John M. Olin Foundation, 1978
  52. Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC): Ford Foundation, 1979
  53. Support of Democratization and Civil Societies in Central and Eastern Europe: The Open Society Institute, Soros Foundation Network, 1980
  54. MacArthur Fellows Program: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, 1981
  55. The Enterprise Foundation: Surdna Foundation, 1982
  56. Self-Help: Ford Foundation et al., 1984
  57. Conflict Resolution Program: William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, 1984
  58. The Health Care for the Homeless Program: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Pew Charitable Trusts, 1985
  59. Certifying America’s Teachers’ Competence in the Subjects They Teach: Carnegie Corporation, 1985
  60. Cleaning up Boston’s Harbor and Waterfront: The Boston Foundation, 1986
  61. Biodiversity Protection: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, 1986
  62. School Choice: Vouchers in Milwaukee: Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, 1986
  63. The Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center: Aaron Diamond Foundation, 1987
  64. Clare Boothe Luce Program: Henry R. Luce Foundation, 1987
  65. Balancing the Power of College Sports: The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics: John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, 1989
  66. Goldman Environmental Prize: Richard and Rhoda Goldman Environmental Foundation, 1989
  67. Cooperative Security and the Nunn-Lugar Act: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, 1989
  68. Care at the End of Life: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Open Society Institute, 1989 and 1994
  69. New Standards Project: Pew Charitable Trusts, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, 1990
  70. Sustainable Environment Programs: Pew Charitable Trusts, 1990
  71. KIDS COUNT: Annie E. Casey Foundation, 1991
  72. The Transformation of the Kaiser Family Foundation: Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 1991
  73. The Energy Foundation: MacArthur, Pew, Rockefeller, Hewlett, Packard, McKnight Foundations, 1991
  74. Central European University: Open Society Institute, 1991
  75. Living Cities: The National Community Development Initiative, 1991
  76. The Tobacco Use Programs of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 1991
  77. Charter Schools Funding: Walton Family Foundation, 1991
  78. JSTOR: Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, 1992
  79. International Science Foundation: Soros Foundations/Open Society Institute, 1992
  80. Support for Asian Studies and Cultural Exchange: Freeman Foundation, 1993
  81. The Prostate Cancer Foundation, 1993
  82. Paul B. Beeson Career Development Awards in Aging Research Program: Commonwealth Fund, Hartford Foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies, Starr Foundation, 1994
  83. Picker Institute: Commonwealth Fund, 1994
  84. College and Beyond Database: Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, 1994
  85. National Violent Death Reporting System: Joyce Foundation, 1994
  86. National Urban Reconstruction and Housing Agency (NURCHA): Open Society Institute, 1995
  87. Pew Research Center for the People and the Press: Pew Charitable Trusts, 1995
  88. Sloan Digital Sky Survey: Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, 1995
  89. Computational Molecular Biology: Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, 1995
  90. Grantmakers for Effective Organizations: David and Lucile Packard Foundation, 1996
  91. United Nations Arrears Campaign: United Nations Foundation/Better World Fund, 1997
  92. Youth Development Program: Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, 1999
  93. The Plan for Transformation of Public Housing in Chicago: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, 1999
  94. China Sustainable Energy Program: David and Lucile Packard Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, 1999
  95. Smart Growth Initiative: Surdna Foundation et al., 1999
  96. International Fellowships Program: Ford Foundation, 2000
  97. Sustainable Development in the Great Bear Rainforest: David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, et al., 2000
  98. Talented Students in the Arts Initiative: The Surdna Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, 2000
  99. A Model for the New Inner-City School: KIPP Academies: Pisces Foundation, 2000
  100. Connecting for Health: A Public-Private Collaborative: John and Mary R. Markle Foundation, 2002



Leaders of time-limited foundations often assert that spending all of their resources in a relatively short period gives them the ability to do more good, to produce more social value, than if they were to hold the same resources in a lasting endowment and disburse only the proceeds. That belief has motivated many signatories of the Giving Pledge, including the founder of The Atlantic Philanthropies, Chuck Feeney. The idea has an intuitive appeal, and perhaps as a result, it is rarely questioned. But examined more closely, it may lead one to wonder: How would we know whether, or when, this is true?
At heart, the proposition is essentially financial — a matter of comparing investments. As an Atlantic investment adviser put it, if a foundation’s grants “generate a social return, and that return compounds at a higher rate than your financial assets would,” then making the grants soon is more socially valuable than preserving the capital and making more grants later. At a gathering at Atlantic in 2016, a group of philanthropic leaders, advisers, and scholars examined the financial and economic logic of this question in some detail. Their deliberations were largely theoretical, but many participants felt the question might be just as well answered by applying the broad logic of investment returns to some real-world foundation programs. The pages that follow offer three such examples.
Authored by Tony Proscio


Limited Life Lit Review 7-13-15 (1)

At the request of the Center for Strategic Philanthropy & Civil Society and The Atlantic Philanthropies, the Foundation Center conducted a review of practitioner-based research, academic research, and social sector news and blogs on the topic of limited-lifespan foundations. This spreadsheet summarizes the material discovered in that review. The search drew from sources including IssueLab, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Foundation Review, and The Chronicle of Philanthropy, as well as Google Scholar, top philanthropy blogs, and the websites of self-identified limited-lifespan foundations. The Center included resources focused on motivations for choosing a limited lifespan, implementation of the sunsetting process, and the effects the decision to limit lifespan has on a foundation’s operation and impact. In addition, the Center examined key resources beyond the literature on limited-lifespan foundations related to measuring social returns—in particular the effect of the timing of giving on social value.


Edward Skloot

September 2011

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What’s it like to have the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation moving into high gear, playing a prominent social, political, and even diplomatic role—as well as a philanthropic one—around the world? Is it unique and different from any foundation we’ve ever seen, or it it just a lot bigger and richer? And if Gates is unique, what are the implications for the field? Edward Skloot assesses the roles of this $37 billion mega-foundation and how it can help, or hurt, those who receive its largesse.

Skloot, Edward, 2011. "The Gated Community." Alliance, vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 32-35.


Gara LaMarche

June 2011

Gara LaMarche Scaling Up in a Time of Scarcity

Text of a speech delivered by Atlantic Philanthropies President and CEO Gara LaMarche before participants of the second annual Conference on Scaling Impact, hosted by the Social Impact Exchange.

LaMarche, Gara, 2011. "'Scaling Up' in a Time of Scarcity: Some Experiences, Observations, and Caveats." Speech delivered at the second annual Conference on Scaling Impact hosted by the Social Impact Exchange, New York: June 15.



Limited Life Lit Review 7-13-15 (1)

Alice Buhl


This is the story of the third generation members of the Miller family who chose to spend down the Irwin Sweeney Miller Foundation, with assets of approximately $25 million. Their story is different from many in two important ways. First, the decision to spend down had not been suggested or implied by previous generation donors. Second, the decision was driven by the possibility of making a significant difference in Columbus, Indiana, the family’s historic community, even though only one of the six current generation families still lived there.

Buhl, Alice. 2013. Irwin Sweeney Miller Foundation: A Study In Spend Down(link is external). Durham, NC: Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University.


Julius Rosenwald's Crusade: One Donor's Plea to Give While You Live

Ascoli, Peter M., 2006.

Philanthropy, May/June. Cover story in Philanthropy magazine focusing largely on an article by Julius Rosenwald published in 1929 in the Saturday Evening Post laying out his reasons for spending down his philanthropic foundation.

Peter Ascoli, grandson of the prominent donor Julius Rosenwald and faculty member of the Spertus Institute of Jewish studies, has just written a biography of his grandfather, whom he calls “JR.” The above is adapted from Julius Rosenwald: The Man Who Built Sears, Roebuck and Advanced the Cause of Black Education in the American South (Indiana University Press).

This article was the cover story in the May / June 2006 issue of Philanthropy magazine.

 Spending Out: Learning Lessons from Time-Limited Grant-making

Association of Charitable Foundations, 2010. London, UK: Author. This booklet continues the series of guides for ACF members, supporting them in their work and helping to reexamine aspects of being an effective foundation. Drawing out the questions of purpose and focus asked by limited-life foundations reveals experience and learning that may be of value to many other foundations undertaking their own periodic reviews, as well as to new philanthropists considering the appropriate vehicle for their giving.


 A Nonprofit Goes for Broke

Bays, Jonathan, André Dua, and Lynn K. Taliento, 2006. McKinsey Quarterly, September. Free registration required. The organizational challenges stemming from the decision by the Atlantic Philanthropies to spend down its endowment proved daunting and ultimately affected everything from Atlantic's choice of grantees to the kinds of people it employs. Atlantic's story offers strategic, operational, and organisational lessons for any foundation or comparable institution that is considering transformative change.


Giving While Living: The Beldon Fund Spend-Out Story

Carlson, Neil, and Theodora Lurie, 2009. New York: Beldon Fund. The Beldon Fund’s decision to establish a clear end date set the course for its strategy and operations. Decisions about investment, staffing, programs, and preparing grantees for Beldon’s exit all flowed from the simple fact that an immutable closing date existed on the horizon. This monograph focuses on how the Beldon Fund managed the nuts and bolts of spending out.


Structuring the Investment Portfolio of A Limited-Life Foundation

Coates, Philip, 2008. Effect, vol. 2, no. 3: pp. 29-30. The chief investment officer of the Atlantic Philanthropies outlines a strategy for avoiding significant mark-to-market losses and structuring sufficient liquidity over time to pay grants.

Structuring the Investment Portfolio of a Limited-Life Foundation

Private Foundations: The Trick

Cullman, Lewis B., 2003.New York Review of Books, September 25. Opinion piece by the founder of the Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Foundation, arguing that federal law should require foundations to spend down their endowments over a fifty-year span.

Private Foundations_ The Trick _ Lewis B. Cullman _ The New York Review of Books

A Date Certain: Lessons from Limited Life Foundations

Davis, Martin A. Jr., 2003. Philanthropy, September/October. Cover story for Philanthropy magazine outlines seven one-time, high-dollar grants awarded by the W.H. Brady Foundation as it considered spending down.


Strategic Plan, 2007-2012

Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, 2007. London, UK: Author. The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund is an independent grant-giving charity established in September 1997 to continue the Princess’s humanitarian work in the United Kingdom and overseas. The Fund will spend out its existing capital over a period of between five and nine years from early 2007. In order to achieve its aims in this limited time span it has needed to change the way it works. This report describes its movement from being a criteria-led grant maker to being a proactive and objective-driven one.


Spending Out, the Markey Way

Dickason, John H., and Duncan Neuhauser, 1999. Foundation News & Commentary, vol. 40, no. 5. Cover story on spend-down at the Lucille P. Markey Charitable Trust, including the decision to deposit its records in the Rockefeller Archive Center. Also includes information on the Charles E. Culpepper Foundation, the Raymond C. Smith Foundation, and the Whitaker Foundation.


Giving It Away Now to Make the Most Difference

Hanisch, Lenore, 2011. "Giving It Away Now to Make the Most Difference." Tactical Philanthropy, January 3. Guest post on the Tactical Philanthropy blog by the co-executive director of the Quixote Foundation, which is planning to spend all of its endowment by 2017.

Giving it Away Now to Make the Most Difference _ Tactical Philanthropy

Solving Today's Problems with Today's Money

Harrison, Verna, 2008. "Solving Today's Problems with Today's Money." EGA Journal, Fall: pp. 24-26. Interview with John Hunting, founder of the Beldon Fund, which closed in 2009.


Julius Rosenwald and the Rosenwald Fund: A Case in Non-Perpetual Philanthropy

Hoereth, Joseph K., 2007. "Julius Rosenwald and the Rosenwald Fund: A Case in Non-Perpetual Philanthropy." In Louis Delgado, ed., Lessons from Philanthropy: A Case Studies Approach: A Report to the Ford Foundation. Chicago: Loyola University Chicago, pp. 149-169. Teaching case study of Julius Rosenwald and his foundation, centering on his arguments for creating a non-perpetual philanthropy.

Lessons in Philanthropy_ A Case Studies Approach

Spending Down In The 21st Century

Kass, Sarah, 2011. "Spending Down in the 21st Century." Report originally submitted as a memo to the board of trustees of the AVI CHAI Foundation, May 2010.



Existing Forever Versus Doing Some Good

Kleiman, Kelly, 2012. "Existing Forever Versus Doing Some Good." Stanford Social Innovation Review, March 28, 2012. Article arguing that foundation spend-down is in sync with both donor intent and sectoral need.

Existing Forever Versus Doing Some Good

Sense of Urgency Prompts Brainerd Sunset

Krumboltz, Ann, 2008. Alliance magazine.  Brief article by the executive director of the Seattle-based Brainerd Foundation on its intention to spend down its endowment by approximately the year 2020.

Sense of urgency prompts Brainerd sunset - Alliance magazine

Giving While Living

LaMarche, Gara, and Lenore Hanisch, 2010. Giving While Living." "National Center on Family Philanthropy, November 10. Audio file (1 hour, 24 minutes) of teleconference hosted by the president and CEO of the Atlantic Philanthropies and the co-executive director of the Quixote Foundation.

Giving while living - NCFP

The Power of Now: Spend Out Trusts and Foundations in the UK

Institute for Philanthropy, 2010. The Power of Now: Spend Out Trusts and Foundations in the UK. London, UK: Author. This paper seeks to better understand the phenomenon of spending out and attempts to draw an illustrative picture of what a sample of existing and recently closed spend-out trusts in the United Kingdom are doing and why. Includes profiles of the Tubney Charitable Trust; the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Trust; the Four Acre Trust; and the Atlantic Philanthropies.

The Power of Now - PhilanTopic _ PND _ Candid

The Aaron Diamond Foundation: AIDS Research in New York City

Nash, Matthew T.A., 2007. The Aaron Diamond Foundation: AIDS Research in New York City. Durham, NC: Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University. Case study examines a foundation that spent down its $200 million endowment over 10 years on programs in medical research, minority education, and culture in New York City.


Limited Life Foundations: Motivations, Experiences, and Strategies

Ostrower, Francie, 2009. Limited Life Foundations: Motivations, Experiences, and Strategies. Washington, DC: Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy, Urban Institute. Although most foundations are established in perpetuity, the limited life option is attracting more attention. This monograph helps fill a gap in the literature by examining the motivations, strategies, and experiences associated with the decision to "sunset" and by comparing the attitudes and practices of perpetual and limited life foundations. The report draws on survey data on over 800 private foundations with varied longevity plans, and in-depth interviews with 31 foundations that have considered or plan termination.


Foundation Sunset: A Decision-Making Guide

Ostrower, Francie, 2011. Foundation Sunset: A Decision-Making Guide. Washington, DC: Aspen Institute. This research-based guide offers a framework that can help donors and trustees craft a sunsetting plan that is consistent with their particular values, circumstances, and motivations. It does so by identifying overarching areas of decisions for donors and trustees to address, and discussing options within them. This guide proposes that a strong sunsetting plan will be one in which donors and trustees clarify their thinking on each of these elements, and in which the different elements of the plan are consistent with one another and the foundation’s fundamental rationale for sunsetting.


Sunsetting: A Framework for Foundation Life As Well As Death

Ostrower, Francie, 2011. Sunsetting: A Framework for Foundation Life as well as Death. Washington, DC: Aspen Institute. This paper contends that, when approached in a strategic fashion, sunsetting offers a distinct approach to philanthropy with certain benefits and characteristics. This conclusion is developed through an analysis of four sunsetting foundations: the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, the Beldon Fund, the Jacobs Family Foundation, and the Pear Foundation. These foundations share certain characteristics of sunsetting foundations more broadly, but they were not chosen because they are typical. They were selected because each, in its own way, takes a planned and deliberative approach to sunsetting.


The Insider's Guide to Spend Down: Switching Off the Lights at the Olin Foundation

Piereson, James, 2002. "The Insider's Guide to Spend Down: Switching Off the Lights at the Olin Foundation." Philanthropy Roundtable, vol. 16, no. 2. In this magazine article, Olin's executive director describes the ongoing process of spend-down at the conservative foundation, which closed in 2005.

The Insider’s Guide to Spend Down

Giving It All Away: Strategies from the Spend-Down Experts

Piereson, James, and Gara LaMarche, 2011. "Giving It All Away: Strategies from the Spend-Down Experts." Philanthropy Roundtable Annual Meeting. Audio file (55 minutes) of conversation between the former executive director of the John M. Olin Foundation and the president and CEO of the Atlantic Philanthropies.

Perpetuity or Limited Lifespan: How Do Family Foundations Decide?

Renz, Loren, and David Wolcheck, 2009. Perpetuity or Limited Lifespan: How Do Family Foundations Decide? New York: Foundation Center. While awareness of lifespan planning options has grown, research on this topic has been sparse. To answer the basic question of how many active foundations are planning to spend down or exist in perpetuity (or have not yet made a decision), and to examine foundations’ motivations and decision-making, the Foundation Center, in collaboration with the Council on Foundations, launched a study of family foundations in 2008. This report presents the study’s findings, which are based on survey responses from 1,074 family foundations.


Escaping the Perpetuity Mindset Trap

Schmidt, Arthur "Buzz," 2008. "Escaping the Perpetuity Mindset Trap." Nonprofit Quarterly, article. The founder and CEO of GuideStar International argues that foundations can increase their philanthropic impact if they focus less on their own longevity and begin putting a larger portion of their funds toward grantmaking. Includes a list of 9 potential operating strategies that would accompany this goal for increasing social value.

Escaping the Perpetuity Mindset Trap - Non Profit News _ Nonprofit Quarterly

Do I Spend Down or Form a Foundation in Perpetuity?

The Bridgespan Group, 2010. "The Philanthropist's Dilemma: Do I spend Down or Form a Foundation in Perpetuity?" No one likes to dwell on his or her own mortality, but thinking about how you want your philanthropy to be managed after your lifetime is essential.


Alternatives to Perpetuity: A Conversation Every Foundation Should Have

Stone, Deanne, 2005. Alternatives to Perpetuity: A Conversation Every Foundation Should Have. Washington, DC: National Center for Family Philanthropy. This paper provides background on the perpetuity versus spend-down debate, discusses the motivations for considering an alternative to perpetuity, and identifies the basic challenges foundations face when looking to spend down their assets: redefining goals, changing investment and spending strategies, communicating with grantees and the public, preparing grantees to find replacement funds, anticipating staff needs, attending to legal requirements, and planning their legacies.


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

Thelin, John R., and Richard W. Trollinger, 2009. Time Is of the Essence: Foundations and the Policies of Limited Life and Endowment Spend-Down. Washington, DC: Program on Philanthropy and Social Innovation, Aspen Institute. Includes case studies of the Corella and Bertram F. Bonner Foundation; the General Education Board; the Julius Rosenwald Fund; and the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust.

Time is of the Essence FINAL_0

Giving Our All: Reflections of a Spend Out Charity

Tubney Charitable Trust, 2012. Giving Our All: Reflections of a Spend Out Charity. London. Short book that tells the story of a British foundation, from its founding through its final spend-out fifteen years later, that grew to become a proactive champion for the natural environment and the lives of farm animals.


Beyond Five Percent: The New Foundation Payout Menu

Waleson, Heidi, 2007. Beyond Five Percent: The New Foundation Payout Menu. New York: Beldon Fund. This paper looks at 13 foundations and examines the ways in which their nonstandard structures—whether in the areas of lifespan, payout, or methods—arise from their missions. Includes sections on spend-down, completed or underway, at the Whitaker Foundation and Helen F. Whitaker Fund, the Beldon Fund, the Atlantic Philanthropies, the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund and the Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Foundation, and the Haigh-Scatena Foundation.


Turning Passion Into Action: Giving While Living

Waleson, Heidi, 2010. Turning Passion into Action: Giving While Living. New York: Atlantic Philanthropies. This publication describes the growing trend of Giving While Living, shares the stories of some of the philanthropists who, like Charles F. Feeney, founder of the Atlantic Philanthropies, are giving generously in their lifetimes, and offers some tips and resources for those who may be interested in embarking on a program of Giving While Living. The profiles in this publication demonstrate the wide range of factors that could motivate one to give.


The Whitaker Foundation 2005: The Final Annual Report of the Whitaker Foundation

Whitaker Foundation, 2006. The Whitaker Foundation 2005: The Final Annual Report of the Whitaker Foundation. Arlington, VA: Author. Includes statements from the Chairman and the President of the Whitaker Foundation; a history and timeline of the foundation; 14 essays by individuals in the field of biomedical engineering assessing the foundation's legacy; and a summary of events in the last year of the foundation's existence.


Debates on Perpetuity

Wooster, Martin Morse, 1998. "Debates on Perpetuity" a section in the article Great Philanthropists Failed & How You Can Succeed at Protecting Your Legacy from Capital Research Center, America's Investigative Think Tank. Article by Martin Morse Wooster, 2017.

Featured Book Excerpt_ How Great Philanthropists Failed & How You Can Succeed at Protecting Your Legacy - Capital Research Center



Tony Proscio


2001 to 2009 Winding_Down_Atlantic_First_Eight_Years

Prepared by philanthropy consultant Tony Proscio, the report addresses the questions raised by the seminal decision made by Atlantic Philanthropies founder Charles F. Feeney to witness the social benefits of his donation during his lifetime: spend how? spend on what? organize how? evaluate what? These questions present new layers of complexity and an assortment of fine-grained operational challenges that are uncommon, or at least take very different forms, in foundations that operate in perpetuity. How Atlantic confronts and resolves those questions is the subject of a series of reports that begins with this submission.

Proscio, Tony, 2010. "Winding Down The Atlantic Philanthropies: The First Eight Years: 2001-2009." Durham, NC: Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University.

The report is also available on the website of the The Atlantic Philanthropies (link is external).


Tony Proscio



This is the second in a planned series of reports on the concluding years of The Atlantic Philanthropies, the largest endowed institution ever to decide to put all its charitable assets to use in a fixed period of time and then close its doors. The report covers events from late 2009 to early 2011, some five to six years before Atlantic expects to make its last grant commitments. In the late months of 2011, the Foundation underwent a significant leadership transition, which brought both a new chair and a new CEO, along with other consequences that are still unfolding as the report goes to print. For the most part, those changes were not contemplated at the time events in the report took place and therefore do not play a role in the story it tells. Instead, the report seeks to give an account of Foundation activity as it was understood at the time, from the perspectives of people then leading the institution.


Proscio, Tony, 2012. Winding Down The Atlantic Philanthropies: 2009-2010: Beginning the Endgame. Durham, NC: Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University.



Tony Proscio



This is the third in a planned series of reports on the concluding years of The Atlantic Philanthropies, the largest endowed philanthropy ever to go deliberately out of business. The report covers 2011-2012, two difficult years of judgment, planning, and adjustment. As each year passes, more and more decisions become irreversible and Atlantic has begun to feel a kind of pressure rarely experienced at perpetual foundations: They are making decisions that can’t be un-made.

Proscio, Tony, 2012. Harvest Time for The Atlantic Philanthropies - 2011-2012: Focus, Exit, and Legacy. Durham, NC: Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University.


2012-2013: DECLINE & RISE

Tony Proscio



This report, the fourth in a series about The Atlantic Philanthropies’s concluding years, details unexpected turns in the foundation’s approach to commit its entire endowment in a limited time frame. The report covers late 2012 through the end of 2013, some three to four years before Atlantic expects to make its final commitments.

Proscio, Tony. 2014. Harvest Time for The Atlantic Philanthropies - 2012-2013: Decline & Rise. Durham, NC: Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University.



Tony Proscio



This report is the fifth in a series on the concluding years of The Atlantic Philanthropies, the largest foundation ever to decide to put all its charitable assets to use in a fixed period of time and then close its doors.

Covering late 2013 through the end of 2014, some two years before Atlantic expects to make its final commitments, the report chronicles:

  • implementation of the foundation’s final priorities: integrating and synthesizing the themes and accomplishments of Atlantic’s 30-plus years
  • culminating Global Opportunity and Leverage grants (known as GOAL) that aimed for significant, long-term effects in areas where the foundation had long been involved
  • how the evaluation and communications teams developed plans to capture and share lessons from Atlantic’s experience and distribute them in multiple forms, through different media and for various audiences
  • adjustments in foundation operations resulting from ongoing reductions in staff—from more than 120 full-time employees at Atlantic’s peak to 56 by the end of 2014.

Proscio, Tony. 2015. Harvest Time for The Atlantic Philanthropies - 2013-2014: Final Priorites. Durham, NC: Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University.



Tony Proscio



This is the sixth paper in the “Harvest Time” series on the concluding years of The Atlantic Philanthropies, the largest endowed institution to put all its charitable assets to use in a fixed period of time and then close its doors. “Finished, But Not Done” covers the period from the end of 2014 through the end of 2016, less than four years before Atlantic expects to complete its work and close.

This report chronicles Atlantic’s plans to conclude its operations and its culminating “big bets” that seek to address 21st century problems and produce significant, lasting results in the fields and places where the foundation had long invested.

Topics covered include:

  • Design and launch of the Atlantic Fellows program, an international, interconnected set of fellowship programs to empower emerging leaders to advance fairer, healthier, more inclusive societies.
  • The foundation’s “unprecedented push” to communicate lessons and principles learned over 35 years of grantmaking, particularly to inform the work of new and younger philanthropists;
  • Progress Atlantic made implementing plans to manage staff needs and transitions; and
  • How the foundation managed its “ever dwindling” endowment to ensure it would be able to meet all outstanding obligations over coming years.

In his concluding comments, Proscio notes that at the end of the period his report covers, Atlantic’s work was continuing “at a lively pace, with large, new, and risky initiatives still in their infancy and the agenda for the next three years still written only in pencil.”

Proscio, Tony. 2018. Harvest Time for The Atlantic Philanthropies - 2014-2016: Finished, But Not Done. Durham, NC: Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University.




Tony Proscio



This report is the last in a series of seven chronicling the concluding years of The Atlantic Philanthropies, which is set to become the largest endowed institution thus far to put all its charitable assets to use in a fixed period and then close its doors.

Covering events from the beginning of 2017 through the autumn of 2019, roughly one year before Atlantic expects to complete its work and close, the report includes:

  • Efforts to crystallize the core purpose of the worldwide network of Atlantic Fellows programs and the Atlantic Institute and communicate a common goal and identity
  • Case studies of two instances (implementation of the National Dementia Strategy in the Republic of Ireland and creation of the Civic Participation Action Fund in the U.S.) where Atlantic projects to alter public policy ran into shifting currents
  • Description of final plans for the Atlantic website and the actively curated archive at Cornell University
  • Details of the foundation’s 2020 conclusion and liquidation

The report concludes with some thoughts on the legacy of Atlantic’s significant achievements, while noting that legacy is “a question that Atlantic’s first CEO, Harvey Dale, had warned from the outset could be answered only through the long lens of history.”

Proscio, Tony. 2020. Harvest Time for The Atlantic Philanthropies - 2017-2019: Three Endings and a Beginning. Durham, NC: Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University.



Joel L. Fleishman


AVI CHAI Fleishman-First-Report-2010-FINAL1

This report explains why and how the AVI CHAI Foundation decided to spend down its endowment, and documents and assesses the first year of the spend-down process.

Fleishman, Joel L., 2010. "First Annual Report to The AVI CHAI Foundation on the Progress of its Decision to Spend Down." Durham, NC: Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University.

The report is also available on the website of the AVI CHAI Foundation (link is external).


"Gearing Up to Spend Down: A Foundation Begins Implementing Its Strategy"

Joel L. Fleishman


AVI CHAI Fleishman-Second-Report-2011-FINAL

Second annual report on spend-down at the AVI CHAI Foundation examines the changes brought about by the board's determination to begin governing the institution less from the perspective of individual grants and more with an eye to the sustainability of its overall fields of interests, the likelihood of future funding for these fields, the durability of their leading organizations, and the odds that future philanthropists would see opportunity in, and derive inspiration from, the work that AVI CHAI had set in motion.

Fleishman, Joel L., 2011. "Gearing Up to Spend Down: A Foundation in the Midst of Paradigm Shifts: Year Two Report on the Concluding Years of the AVI CHAI Foundation." Durham, NC: Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University.

The report is also available on the website of the AVI CHAI Foundation (link is external).


"Shifting The Spend-Down Into High Gear"

Joel L. Fleishman


AVI CHAI Fleishman-Third-Report-2011

The previous two reports ("First Annual Report to the AVI CHAI Foundation" and "Gearing Up to Spend Down") in this series describe a general atmosphere of confidence and pride about the prospect of wrapping up what would eventually be more than a quarter-century of philanthropy. But the two respective periods, 2008-09 and 2009-10, were also years of soul-searching, painful choices, and some uncertainty among staff, Trustees, and grantees. To begin with, the decision to spend down the Foundation’s assets had imposed a kind of finality on the remaining work to be done, a need to focus strategy and husband resources, and a short, strict time-limit within which to accomplish as much as possible. Because the Foundation had traditionally worked as a solo player in philanthropy, rarely seeking or joining partnerships with other funders, it would now have an uphill struggle to help many of its grantees find other sources of support and build bridges to other contributors. Trustees, who had previously focused considerable energy and attention on individual grants, grantees, and projects, realized they would need to work differently, widen their horizons, delegate more routine responsibility to senior staff, and devote the greater part of their time to overall strategic deliberation and decision-making as they pilot the institution toward its conclusion. But as if all that weren’t pressure enough, many of these changes in thinking and practice were beginning to reach a critical juncture just as the world economy was unraveling, and the value of endowments were plunging across the philanthropic world, in the Great Recession of 2007-09.

The reports for the past two years reflected these anxieties, along with all of the normal thinking, questioning, and planning to be expected in any period of organizational change. This third year of reporting, however, marks a significant change: a period of exciting, promising, and sustained—indeed, reassuring—action and direction. Highlights of the year are summarized region-by-region.

Fleishman, Joel L., 2011. "Shifting the Spend-Down into High Gear: A Foundation Begins Implementing Its Strategy: Year Three Report on the Concluding Years of the AVI CHAI Foundation." Durham, NC: Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University.

The report is also available on the website of the AVI CHAI Foundation (link is external).


"Some Strategies Beginning to Pay Off...And Promising Hints of Others, Like Early Glimpses of the Dawn"

Joel L. Fleishman


AVI CHAI Fleishman-4th-Spend-Down-Report-2012

In 2005, following the strongly implied wishes of its donor, the AVI CHAI Foundation’s Board of Directors decided that it would expend its full endowment and cease operations within 15 years. The reports in this series, including the three previous reports (First Annual Report to the AVI CHAI Foundation, Gearing Up to Spend Down, and Shifting the Spend-Down into High Gear), describe the process by which AVI CHAI plans and carries out its grantmaking so as to achieve significant, lasting objectives in the time remaining and leave its grantees stronger and more fully equipped to carry on the parts of their mission that the Foundation has supported. Like its three predecessors, this account is based on interviews with every member of the Board and almost all staff, and with a wide selection of grantees and collaborating funders.

Although the sections that follow describe, in broad strokes, the Foundation’s strategic direction in each of its three geographic regions, this report does not attempt to catalogue all the important grantmaking undertaken in the past year. It focuses, instead, on the extent to which particular initiatives are guided by, the result of, or especially influenced by the institution’s limited lifespan, and how the various lines of grantmaking contribute to the pursuit of an orderly, productive conclusion.

Fleishman, Joel L., 2012. Some Strategies Beginning to Pay Off . . . And Promising Hints of Others, Like Early Glimpses of the Dawn: Year Four Report of the Concluding Years of the AVI CHAI Foundation. (link is external) Durham, NC: Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University.

The report is also available on the website of the AVI CHAI Foundation (link is external).


"Sunset Approaching More Rapidly Than It Seems"

Joel L. Fleishman


AVI CHAI Fleishman-5th-Report-2013

This is the fifth in a series of reports on how the AVI CHAI Foundation goes about putting its full endowment to use and completing its grantmaking.

Fleishman, Joel L., 2013. Sunset Approaching More Rapidly Than It Seems: Year Five Report on The Concluding Year of The AVI CHAI  Foundation. Durham, NC: Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University.

The report is also available on the website of the AVI CHAI Foundation (link is external).


"New Uncertainties - And Opportunities - As the End Approaches"

Joel L. Fleishman



This is the sixth in a series of reports on how the AVI CHAI Foundation goes about putting its full endowment to use and completing its grantmaking.

Fleishman, Joel L., 2014. New Uncertainties - And Opportunities - As the End Approaches: Year Six Report of The AVI CHAI Foundation. Durham, NC: Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University.

The report is also available on the website of the AVI CHAI Foundation (link is external).


"The Saving Remnant Is Shining Bright, Its Fire Now Spreading Renewing Light"

Joel L. Fleishman


AVI-CHAI-Spend-Down-2018 (1)

This is the seventh in a series of reports on how The AVI CHAI Foundation is going about completing its grantmaking.

Fleishman, Joel L., 2018. The Saving Remnant Is Shining Bright, Its Fire Now Spreading Renewing Light, Year Seven Report of The AVI CHAI Foundation. Durham, NC: Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University.

The report is also available on the website of the AVI CHAI Foundation (link is external).



"Against Strong Headwinds"

Joel L. Fleishman



This is the eighth and final report in a series of reports on the concluding years of the AVI CHAI Foundation.

The AVI CHAI Foundation's bold vision and relentless persistence succeeded in strengthening Jewishness in countless measurable initiatives.

Fleishman, Joel L., 2019. Against Strong Headwinds, Year Eight Report of The AVI CHAI Foundation. Durham, NC: Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University.

The report is also available on the website of the AVI CHAI Foundation (link is external).