July 12, 2012

Atlantic Philanthropies Lays Out Strategy for 2016 Wind-Down

President’s letter speaks of difficult choices during spend-down period

The Atlantic Philanthropies has invested $6 billion in grants around the world and has $1.3 billion left to grant. The Atlantic Philanthropies has invested $6 billion in grants around the world and has $1.3 billion left to grant.

The Atlantic Philanthropies, a foundation set up in 1982 by Charles Feeney, the co-founder of Duty Free Shoppers Group, will spend down its assets and stop making grants in 2016.

Earlier this week, Atlantic’s president Christopher Oechsli posted a letter to grantees on the foundation’s website, laying out some of the strategy for its final years.

Atlantic has invested upward of $6 billion in grants around the world over its 30-year history. Oechsli said that although the foundation’s remaining assets were substantial, they were “extremely limited in comparison to the needs and opportunities,” requiring difficult choices.

At present, Atlantic’s endowment has $2.2 billion, of which $1.3 billion remains to be granted, according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

To be most effective in its final years, Oechsli said, Atlantic will need to focus narrowly on its core program objectives and experiences. The core areas are aging, children and youth, health, and reconciliation and human rights as well as Founding Chairman grants.

Not all program work will continue to 2016, he said. Timing will be determined by where the best opportunities are to have maximum effect, whether there has been significant change and prospects for sustainability are good, and Atlantic’s ability to finish its work effectively.

After grant making ends, Atlantic will make final payments, monitor continuing grants and evaluate and share its experiences to enhance grantees’ work, Oechsli said.

Atlantic’s board decided to make it a limited-life foundation in 2002. In a November 2010 teleconference, Oechsli’s predecessor Gara LaMarche discussed a variety of issues related to the spend-down decision.

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Read Family Foundations Consider Issue of Perpetuity Vs. Limited Life at AdvisorOne.

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