Foundations with an End Date May Honor the Donor’s Intent

(p. C6) This year, the William E. Simon Foundation is closing its doors, or “sunsetting,” in the parlance of modern philanthropy. Since it was founded in 1967 by former Treasury Secretary William E. Simon and his wife Carol, the foundation has given away almost $300 million to the causes that mattered to them—faith, family and education.

. . .

Traditionally, sunsetting a foundation has appealed to more conservative donors. Bill Simon, Jr., who manages the Simon Foundation along with his six siblings, says that his late father set a closing date because he had seen “foundations that seemed to veer off of their donor’s intent.” Simon recalls: “Dad trusted his own seven children to know where he would have put his money…But as much as he loved his grandchildren, he did not know them.”

Indeed, Henry Ford II resigned from the Ford Foundation’s board in 1977, writing that its hostility to capitalism had thrown it off course: “Perhaps it is time for the trustees and staff to examine the question of our obligations to our economic system and to consider how the foundation, as one of the system’s most prominent offspring, might act most wisely to strengthen and improve its progenitor.”

For the full commentary, see:

Naomi Schaefer Riley. “Philanthropists Discover the Value of ‘Sunsetting’.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, Aug. 5, 2023): C6.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date August 3, 2023, and has the same title as the print version.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *