Our endowment remains untouchable because it is kind of unthinkable to touch it. The best reason not to spend an endowment is that things might get worse – and then we wouldn’t even have our back up.
On the other hand, maybe spending an endowment could make things better. It might even restore people’s hope in foundations. Or maybe just restore their hope. Now that uprising has joined pandemic, many of us have misplaced our hope.
Foundations also have a pantry kind of plan. Many spend earnings and not capital. Certainly, many nonprofits and religious institutions have a plan: Never dip into your endowments, no matter what.
Before crises, one can shop the French way. One can pick and choose the boutique programs, the fresh idea, the short-lived idea.
During a crisis, we are forced to think long. When will we end police abuse of their power or the way people of color suffer more no matter what happens? Repair? Reparation? Unfund the abuse of power and release power to people? What good ideas for a pantry.
We have to do both the work of mercy and justice at the same time. When 20 million jobs disappear in one month, people get legitimately nervous.
It could be a very good time to invest in a very good future, one where instead of using nature up, we sustain her long.
The Skoll Foundation recently doubled the money it is going to give away.
New money is a great approach to avoid spending investments, but it is unlikely to resolve the preexisting conditions that make all of us comorbid with this virus.
We need to change our habits with our pantries, not just spend more money in the old ways we spent it.
Read the full article about managing endowments during COVID-19 by Donna Schaper at National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy.