Beldon’s experience adds to spend-out vs perpetuity debate

The Beldon Fund, whose aim was to strengthen environmental organizations and increase awareness of the effect environmental degradation has on human health, has closed, having reached the end of its allotted 10-year lifespan. Initiated by a $100 million endowment gift in 1998 by John Hunting, the foundation’s website will remain up and running, providing information about how the fund planned and executed its exit strategy and the lessons it learned over the course of its lifespan.

Hunting told the New York Times, ‘I felt as an environmentalist that it was imperative to spend the money now, because it would be silly to wait for the future if there wasn’t going to be a future.’ The website should make interesting reading for those on both sides of the debate about whether foundations should exist in perpetuity or spend down by a predetermined date. According to a recent Foundation Center study of family foundations, roughly 12 per cent of US family foundations have decided to spend themselves out and an additional 25 per cent are undecided about the issue.

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