What’s Up With Spending Everything While We Are Here?

Spending everything while we are here

April 5, 2010

You may have heard the good news: We’ve just announced Quixote Foundation will spend all of its money between now and 2017.

We have never seen a confluence of specific urgencies, dynamic openings, and innovation like this moment represents. In each of our interest areas, conditions that favor progress have convinced us to spend everything over a short term.

Rules being debated right now will define whether people have access to affordable broadband and an open internet, or if those basic tools and freedoms will be restricted. Election officials are making technology-related purchasing and policy decisions that will decide whether generations of U.S. votes are secure. Pioneering investments in green energy ownership, infrastructure and jobs will affect racial and economic disparities—for better, or for worse? These and other events point to the next few years as a landmark chance to make the most of our assets.

This decision has roots in our founder‘s belief that a donor’s role is secondary to what people and organizations do on the ground. The point is to become the most effective change agent we can be, even if that means not being a foundation anymore in the institutional sense. That’s one reason we bother calling our choice “spending up” instead of spending out or down. We believe who we are as a foundation will be fulfilled—not diminished—by putting more money into action, spending it up into progressive work.

We’ve also been inspired by what other foundations are accomplishing as they spend everything. The French American Charitable Trust is funding ideas, leaders and organizations whose particular work will be magnified with up-front investment. The Brainerd Foundation is boosting immediate progress toward environmental goals in order to pass strong momentum forward to new conservationists and donors who emerge. The Beldon Fund positioned grantees to win by building their capacity, clout and base of support. In each case, the focus and results have been enlivened by spending up. While “sunset” is a common term to describe the process, what these foundations achieve looks a lot like dawn.

We’re making this announcement early so there’s plenty of time for conversation. Please let others know and chime in with your perspective on spending everything as a strategy:

  • Read the full announcement and Frequently Asked Questions
  • Forward this information to anyone you think might be interested in the discussion
  • Blog to add your thoughts on the topic
  • Follow QuixoteTilts on Twitter and tag your tweets #spendup
  • Post your thoughts on our Facebook page
  • Send comments directly to don -at- quixotefoundation -dot- org
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Chime in now, we want to hear from you!

—written by Keneta Anderson for Quixote Foundation