August 20, 2010; Source: Wall Street Journal | Lewis Cullman, a 91 year old New York-based philanthropist who has given hundreds of millions of dollars to charity over his life, and author of You Can’t Take it With You, is advocating for an increase of the 5 percent foundation payout minimum, or alternatively for a “sunset clause” that would require foundations to spend down within a predetermined span of time. He tells the Wall Street Journal that $600 billion is now locked up in foundation coffers and needs to be freed. Many of these foundations, he says, are self-perpetuating and more concerned about maintaining their nest eggs than they are with their philanthropic missions, even during times like these. Says Cullman, “When you set up a family foundation and turn it over to bureaucrats, it is not human nature to vote yourself out of existence. It’s time to end that, for the good of us all.” Look for NPQ’s own Rick Cohen quoted in this article.—Ruth McCambridge
About The Author
Ruth is Editor in Chief of the Nonprofit Quarterly. Her background includes forty-five years of experience in nonprofits, primarily in organizations that mix grassroots community work with policy change. Beginning in the mid-1980s, Ruth spent a decade at the Boston Foundation, developing and implementing capacity building programs and advocating for grantmaking attention to constituent involvement.