It was spring 2010. After a grueling recruitment process, I received an offer to take up the role of Director General of the MAVA Foundation, my dream job.

Though I pretty much accepted the offer on the spot, there was a snag. MAVA’s founder, Luc Hoffmann, sat me down and wanted to be sure I realized that the foundation would continue only until 2022. 2022 seemed ridiculously far away, a lifetime away – of course I would take the job anyway. Who wouldn’t?

One of the first questions people ask is why we are closing. The answer is both complex and simple: our founder planned it that way. he recognized that a family foundation should be powered by the passion of family members, not simply be there to carry on the tradition of the founder. There are many different methods of handling the transition to subsequent generations in a family foundation. The choice, in this case, is for various family members to take their interest in conservation and combine it with other passions such as literature and art. The sunsetting of MAVA re-centers the family philanthropy on the many other Hoffmann family foundations that exist.

Another key element to understand is how MAVA itself is funded. Unlike many foundations who are capitalized and who live off the earnings from an endowment, MAVA’s funding comes from a beneficial interest in a certain number of shares of Roche stock, owned by Luc and now by his children. This means that when dividends are declared, the income is transferred directly to MAVA. This arrangement was put in place – you guessed it – until 2022, after which MAVA will no longer have an income.

It provides the perfect moment to rethink the family’s philanthropic interests.

Read the full article about MAVA by  Lynda Mansson at National Center for Family Philanthropy.