New Resources for Private Foundations and their Donors

Chart of the payout choices private foundations make, ranging from 5% to flexible spending each year, to spending down.

“How much should we spend?” It’s a fundamental question for founders and boards of private foundations. Finding an answer becomes more complex and emotional during an economic downturn, natural disaster, or other unexpected crisis or opportunity that increases demand for funding. The best answers come from thoughtfully balancing:  your foundation’s purpose, conditions and trends facing the communities and causes you care about, your time horizon, and the assets available for your mission.

I’m thankful that the National Center for Family Philanthropy and Council on Foundations invited me to write two new guides to help foundations answer questions about payout. They are resources I wish were available when I took the helm of an endowed family foundation almost ten years ago

Both guides are primarily written for U.S.-based private foundations, the donors who establish them, and the professionals who advise them. Other types of endowed foundations and public charities can learn from some of the frameworks in the guides. The guides and webinar encourage more thoughtful consideration of options, but don’t advocate a specific answer to payout, purpose, or permanence.

I’m happy to discuss the ideas in the guides with foundations, their advisors, and their peer groups. Just drop me a note (tony [at] or book at call.