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August 3, 2020; Generocity

The 52-year-old Alfred and Mary Douty Foundation, which makes grants in Montgomery and Philadelphia counties in Pennsylvania, has decided it is time to spend down its remaining $6 million in assets and end its life as a private foundation at the end of the 2021 calendar year. It says it started asking the perpetuity question at the 50-year mark.

“Central to our conversation has been: Should the foundation continue in perpetuity as a private foundation or can our modest assets join with others to help amplify and accelerate aligned areas of interest and change?” reads a statement from the foundation.

The statement adds, “Many of the issues that the foundation has sought to address through its grantmaking were thrust and exposed into the full public consciousness: equity and amplification of the voices of those most affected by inequitable systems.”

The announcement followed a commitment it made to spend 25 percent of its assets to meet the urgency of the moment in terms of both the pandemic and racial justice.

“I think the board is being responsible in spending more now in this moment,” says Jennifer Leith, the foundation’s executive director, “It seems like so much is at a tipping point and the boulder is almost to the top of the hill on several justice issues.”

With Douty putting more funding on the streets now, it can hopefully accelerate the move to the “finish line” in some aspect of issues and work. Then strategically putting its remaining resources where/how the fight will be amplified in the years to come is what happens in 2021.

Douty’s emphasis has been on supporting organizations that:

  • have demonstrated roots within the community;
  • have a commitment to community engagement;
  • have limited access to funding sources;
  • provide or promote educational opportunities for children and youth;
  • are focused on long-term social change through their work;
  • are willing to take risks in terms of program delivery or the development of solutions to needs or problems

The foundation, which focuses on what it calls liberation philanthropy, will continue to make grants through next year and then turn over the remainder of its assets to another aligned organization.—Ruth McCambridge