The Chronicle of Philanthropy - As our nation grapples with a confluence of crises, philanthropy is abuzz with how best to respond. Some are increasing payouts. Others are allowing grantees more flexibility in how they spend funds. A few have issued bonds to increase their charitable giving without tapping endowments. These are all useful steps, but none do enough to uproot historical inequities and upend power structures in society and philanthropy.
We offer an alternative solution: We encourage foundations to join the growing movement to distribute all their philanthropic assets within the next few years.
As the leaders of three foundations doing just that, we feel compelled in this moment to encourage grant makers to redistribute private philanthropic wealth back into communities instead of holding on to funds so their institutions can exist indefinitely. If we are to live our values, we must ask ourselves and our peers, “What are we saving our endowments for?”
Our call to distribute all endowment assets echoes many of our grantees’ pleas. Christina Livingston, director of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, says philanthropists who publicly declare their support for racial justice need to “unlock endowments and let those who bear the brunt of generations of systemic racial and economic violence determine how those resources can best serve.”
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