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Shifting the Spend-Down into High Gear: A Foundation Begins Implementing its Strategy Year Three Report on the Concluding Years of The AVI CHAI Foundation
For the past three years, the author has been chronicling the ongoing process of spend-down at AVI CHAI, a foundation located in Jerusalem and New York with programs in Israel, North America, and the former Soviet Union. The first two reports (available here and here) described a general atmosphere of confidence and pride about the prospect of wrapping up what would eventually be more than a quarter-century of philanthropy. But the two respective periods, 2008-09 and 2009-10, were also years of soul-searching, painful choices, and some uncertainty among staff, Trustees, and grantees. The decision to spend down the Foundation’s assets had imposed a kind of finality on the remaining work to be done, a need to focus strategy and husband resources, and a short, strict time-limit within which to accomplish as much as possible. Because the Foundation had traditionally worked as a solo player in philanthropy, it would now have an uphill struggle to help many of its grantees find other sources of support and build bridges to other contributors. Many of these changes in thinking and practice were beginning to reach a critical juncture just as the world economy was unraveling, and the value of endowments were plunging across the philanthropic world (2007-09).
The reports for the past two years reflected these anxieties, along with all of the normal thinking, questioning, and planning to be expected in any period of organizational change. This third year of reporting, however, marks a significant change: a period of exciting, promising, and sustained – indeed, reassuring – action and direction.
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Fleishman, Joel. Shifting the Spend-Down into High Gear: A Foundation Begins Implementing its Strategy Year Three Report on the Concluding Years of The AVI CHAI Foundation. Avi Chai Foundation,Duke Sanford School of Public Policy. November 2011: http://www.bjpa.org/Publications/details.cfm?PublicationID=13425
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