Why spend down?

Bill and Melinda Gates, driven by the urgency of the causes they support, and by the potential to effect great change, have made plans to close their foundation 50 years after the death of its last founding trustee. "The more I learned, the more I realized there is no time,” Bill Gates said of their decision. “Disease won't wait." Is it right for you? It may be if:

  • You are passionate about problems you believe you can help solve in your lifetime—and you believe future philanthropists will emerge to address future problems.
  • There are things that you can do while you're alive—such as contribute your particular skills or passion—that will direct this money to its best use.
  • You worry there may not be people interested in carrying the torch; and even if they are interested, it can be a challenge to preserve true donor intent across generations.

What steps should I take if I want to spend down?

    • Revise your strategy to reflect your giving timeline.
    • Help grantees plan accordingly.
    • Communicate your decision to the public.
Why give in perpetuity?

Families such as the Rockefellers and the Hiltons have inspired future generations to make their own mark on humanity by requiring them to carry the family’s mission forward, and planning to give in perpetuity. Giving in perpetuity may be the best choice for you, if:

  • You are passionate about problems you believe will be with us forever, and you see the value of a constant resource—available in good times and bad.
  • You’d like to see family engagement across the generations, and you believe yours will honor your intent.
  • You like the idea of leaving a legacy.

What should I do now if I want to give in perpetuity?

  • Craft a clear, flexible statement of donor intent so your philanthropy can respond to needs over time.

Read the full article about spending down or funding in perpetuity at The Bridgespan Group.