Making Change by Spending Down

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In September 2013, the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies (ACBP) and GrantCraft, a service of Foundation Center, partnered to tell the story of how the ACBP began spending down. There are few stories of foundation spending down—that is, spending all of a foundation’s endowment deliberately with the intent of closing—that have been publicly told, and none to our knowledge using a primary medium of a blog series. ACBP’s goal was to build on GrantCraft’s strength of sharing funder wisdom by highlighting more than 20 voices connected with the spend down over the 28-month period until it closed its doors. Both organizations value transparency, and so periodic blogs felt more visible and candid than a polished and long final report might be.

The body of posts produced offers numerous perspectives on the spend down that result in a detailed collective story. We’ve learned a lot. And, we confirmed what we thought we might learn: there’s no one right way to do or think about spend down, but sharing and listening help build a strategic approach.

The complete story of the foundation is available at, and complete blog posts are linked to throughout and available at


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November 2015

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Amanda Levine and Jen Bokoff



The Philanthropic Sector
Models & Approaches

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