For foundations to be excellent, the people within them need to feel an inner drive to continuously reach for the highest heights, and often. Yet, the perpetuity of most private foundations stands in opposition to this mindset.

Accepting mortality is central to our excellence in philanthropy, but foundation perpetuity still reigns supreme.

A 2020 report by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors found that while the number of time limited foundations is trending upwards, perpetuity remains the dominant foundation model, comprising about 70% of foundations.

Of the organizations that adopted a time limited approach, 79% said they met their stated mission more effectively as a result, and 57% said they worked with greater urgency because of their strategic time horizon.

A commitment to perpetuity, whether by default or intention, lessens the acute understanding that time is limited.

Perhaps mortality imbues those who work at private foundations with some sense that it won’t last forever. And if foundations genuinely faced the unavoidable reality of their own demise, I suspect they’d be more likely to make the most of every day.

Read the full article about time-limited philanthropy by Clark McCain at Exponent Philanthropy.